Mona Faiz Montrage is a popular Ghanaian social media influencer also known as Hajia4Real or Mona 4Real.
Was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom after being charged with a lucrative romance scam targeting elderly Americans.
Prosecutors accused Mona Faiz Montrage, 30, of conspiracy to conduct wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering.
Each carrying a maximum term of 20 years in prison, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Montrage is also charged with receiving stolen money, which carries a maximum prison sentence of ten years.
And conspiracy to receive stolen money, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, according to prosecutors.
Montrage, from Accra, Ghana, currently has 4.2 million Instagram followers.
Her account, which goes by the handle “Hajia4Reall,” was once among Ghana’s top ten most followed.
Prosecutors claim Montrage was a member of a criminal enterprise in West Africa that committed fraud.
Including romance scams, against individuals and businesses in the United States between 2013 and 2019.
According to prosecutors, the victims of the scheme’s romance scam were typically “vulnerable, older men and women who lived alone.”
Prosecutors said the scammers would send their victims emails, texts, and social media messages that led them to believe they were in romantic relationships.
“Once members of the Enterprise had successfully convinced victims that they were in a romantic relationship and gained their trust.
They persuaded the victims, under false pretenses, to transfer money to bank accounts that the victims believed were controlled by their romantic interests, when, in fact, the bank accounts were controlled by members of the Enterprise,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors claim Montrage was in charge of bank accounts that received more than $2 million in fraudulent funds.
According to prosecutors, Montrage allegedly received money from several victims who were duped into sending money by being told the payments were for transferring gold to the United States from abroad.
Resolving a bogus FBI unemployment investigation, or even assisting a fictitious American army officer in receiving funds from Afghanistan.
Prosecutors said Montrage used her real name and called one of her victims several times.
She sent the victim a forged marriage certificate claiming that the couple had married in Ghana.
According to prosecutors, the victim sent Montrage 82 wire transfers totaling $89,000, ostensibly to assist Montrage’s father’s farm in Ghana.
“Romance scams, particularly those targeting the elderly, are a major concern.”
“The FBI will work tirelessly to hold criminals accountable in the criminal justice system,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll in a statement.
Sources: CBS News