Ghanaian charged over $5m romance fraud scheme in US
A Ghana native residing in Dumfries, Va., has been indicted by a federal grand jury for his role in wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies as part of a more than $5 million romance fraud scheme
N. Asomani, 33, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was charged in a six-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon Asomani’s arrest and initial court appearance. Asomani remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
According to the indictment, 13 victims lost a total of $5,075,569 in the wire fraud conspiracy over an approximately two-year period from Sept. 15, 2015, to Oct. 17, 2017. Asomani allegedly received a total of $2,993,354 from victims across the United States, including three victims in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
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Unknown co-conspirators targeted individuals through online dating websites with various romance frauds, the indictment says. The unknown co-conspirators impersonated individuals who were involved in businesses overseas. They convinced the victims that they needed funds to help with moving gold from a foreign country, orphanage expenses, and school and travel expenses. The co-conspirators told the victims they would share the profits when the gold was returned to the United States. In fact, none of the victims received any profit or received any gold from the co-conspirators.
For example, one victim who resides in Lee’s Summit, Mo., set up a profile on ChristianMingle.com following the death of her husband to brain cancer. In October 2015, an individual claiming to be “Larry B. White” initiated contact with her. Following numerous conversations by email and telephone, “White” convinced the victim to invest in a Ghana gold mine. “White” promised a 40 return on the investment of money. From November 2015 through January 2016, under the direction of “White,” the victim sent funds to multiple entities by check and wire approximately $3,292,000. Of that amount, the indictment says, $2,292,000 was transferred to accounts controlled by Asomani. To date, the victim has not received any money or gold profits from “White.”
Another victim, who resides in Leawood, Kan., met “George Bill Parker” on Facebook. “Parker” convinced the victim to send funds for gold-related expenses, such as legal fees, customs, storage, farm-related expenses and ransom. “Parker” promised he would pay the victim back with money or gold. This victim had a total loss of approximately $800,000. Of that amount, the indictment says, the victim sent approximately $220,700 to accounts controlled by Asomani.
A third victim, who resides in Kansas City, Mo., met “Bradley Fischer” on ChristianMingle.com. “Fischer” convinced the victim to send funds for school expenses, travel expenses and to start a new life in Kansas City. On July 19, 2017, the victim wired $24,000 to Asomani’s bank account. “Fischer” promised to pay the victim back when he got to Kansas City. To date, the victim has received $1,000 back from “Fischer.”
Other victims reside in New Jersey, Alaska, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Kansas and Iowa.
According to the indictment, Asomani wired $1,789,416 from his bank accounts in the United States to bank accounts in Ghana. He spent approximately $342,278 on auto purchases and auto- or shipping-related expenses. Asomani shipped 18 vehicles to Ghana, having a declared value of approximately $284,190.
The federal indictment charges Asomani with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Asomani to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of his alleged violation, including $2,993,354 and a 2019 silver Lexus NX300.
The charges contained in this indictment are simply and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul S. Becker and Stacey Perkins Rock. It was investigated by the FBI.