Ghanaian social media influencer, Mona Faiz Montrage, has been indicted on six counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering, receipt of stolen money, and conspiracy to receive stolen money. The indictment, unsealed by Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), alleges that Montrage was a member of a West African criminal enterprise that defrauded individuals and businesses in the United States, including romance scams.
The romance scams often targeted vulnerable, older men and women who lived alone and were deceived into believing that they were in romantic relationships with individuals who had fake identities. Once the victims were convinced of the relationship and had gained the trust of the criminals, they were coerced under false pretenses to transfer money to bank accounts controlled by members of the enterprise.
“Montrage received money from several victims of romance frauds whom members of the Enterprise tricked into sending money. Among the false pretenses used to induce victims to send money to Montrage were (i) payments to transport gold to the United States from overseas; (ii) payments to resolve a fake FBI unemployment investigation; and (iii) payments to assist a fake United States army officer in receiving funds from Afghanistan,” a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York said.
Montrage, who rose to fame as an influencer through her Instagram profile under the username “Hajia4Reall,” is alleged to have received over $2 million in fraudulent funds from several victims of romance fraud. Montrage received the money through various false pretenses, including payments to transport gold to the United States from overseas, payments to resolve a fake FBI unemployment investigation, and payments to assist a fake United States Army officer in receiving funds from Afghanistan.
The indictment also alleges that Montrage pretended to marry one of the victims and sent the victim a tribal marriage certificate purporting to show that they had been married in Ghana. The victim then sent Montrage approximately 82 wire transfers totaling approximately $89,000 to purportedly help with costs associated with Montrage’s father’s farm in Ghana.
If proven guilty, the socialite will be looking at a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each offense count as prescribed by the US Congress although actual sentencing may be determined by a judge .