US authorities have sentenced a trade-based money launderer to 9 years in jail for his role in laundering the proceeds of frauds committed by a Ghana-based criminal enterprise. The authorities arrested the man in February 2021. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in February 2022.
Importantly, the convict was a member of a Ghana-based criminal enterprise that operated various fraud schemes. These schemes targeted individuals and businesses across the US. These fraud schemes included business email compromises, romance scams targeting elderly victims, and COVID-19 relief fraud.
Through its business email compromise fraud scheme, the enterprise deceived businesses into wiring funds into accounts that they controlled through the use of email accounts that appeared to belong to employees of a victim company.
For romance scams, the criminals used email, texts, or online dating websites to enter into romantic relationships with elderly victims. The criminals then coerced the victims into wiring money to them.
The criminals even submitted fraudulent loan applications to procure COVID-19 relief funds. Funds secured through these loans were deposited in bank accounts controlled by the criminals. Through these fraud schemes, the criminals stole tens of millions of dollars from victims across the US.
The convict was one of the members who received fraud proceeds from victims of the criminal enterprise. He controlled 19 bank accounts in the US through which he withdrew, transported, and laundered fraud proceeds. The convict followed a trade-based money laundering scheme, using the proceeds to purchase various goods from the US. He then shipped these products abroad. This helped conceal the origin of the proceeds and the identity of the beneficiaries of the frauds.
Notably, during 2016-21, the convict’s bank accounts received deposits of over $36.4 million. These included fraud proceeds from over 80 known victims.
Source: US Department of Justice