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Ghanaian man pleads guilty to his role in internet romance fraud scheme

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy announced today that Adams Amen, 32, a citizen of Ghana, who resides in Detroit, Michigan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen, Jr., who is handling the case, stated that between March 28, 2015, and June 15, 2017, the defendant conspired with Jason Osei Bonsu and other Ghanaian nationals to devise an internet romance scheme to defraud victims and obtain money.

In furtherance of the scheme, Amen’s co-conspirators utilized a dating website, MillionaireMatch.com, to engage victims in communications online and over the phone to develop a rapport with victims and convince victims that they were developing romantic relationships via the internet. Victims received alleged pictures of the co-conspirators that were actually photographs of others downloaded from the internet. For example, Victim 1, who resides in the Western District of New York, received images of a person known to her as “Marvin Roecker,” but the image actually depicted a real estate agent from Texas, whose name is not “Marvin Roecker.”

After successfully building rapport, victims were asked to wire money to assist with fictitious business ventures, family emergencies, or inheritances. Victims did so, wiring funds to accounts in Ghana, the United Kingdom, and to accounts in the United States controlled by Ghanaian nationals, including Amen.

On March 2, 2016, Victim 1 wired $65,000 to Amen’s TD Bank account. Text messages between the defendant and co-defendant Jason Osei Bonsu demonstrate that both were participants in the scheme to defraud Victim 1. For instance, Amen and Bonsu discussed quickly withdrawing Victim 1’s money to prevent the bank from becoming suspicious. Subsequently, on March 21, 2017, following a request by “Marvin Roecker,” Victim 1 wired another $180,000 to a bank account located in the United Kingdom, which was controlled by a co-conspirator.

Between March 28, 2015, and June 15, 2017, victims wired $881,656 directly to accounts controlled by the defendant. One victim deposited $27,990 cash directly into Amen’s account. Victims lost a total of $909,646.

Today’s plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin P. Lyons.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 23.