Two Ghanaian citizens – Deborah Mensah and Maxwell Peter – have been extradited to the United States of America to face charges to do with cyber fraud.
Deborah Mensah, 33, is said to have been arrested on January 16, 2020 in Accra but charged in the US “with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison”.
The US Department of Justice accused Deborah Mensah of stealing over $10million between 2014 and 2018 through business email compromises (BEC) and romance scams that targeted elderly Americans.
“Deborah Mensah is alleged to have been a participant in a conspiracy that resulted in the theft of millions of dollars from businesses and vulnerable individuals across the United States, and the laundering of that money through a network of bank accounts in the Bronx to co-conspirators in Ghana. Now she is in the United States and facing charges under U.S. law,” acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.
On his part, FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said “Ms. Mensah may have believed hiding in Ghana protected her from facing justice for her alleged role in this scheme”.
“She now knows the FBI’s reach is global through our formidable network of law enforcement partners. Others should take heed – we won’t go away simply because it may take time to go get you. If you break our laws, you will pay the price.”
Aside her activities, Ms Mensah is accused of using the name and identity of another person to withdraw or otherwise direct the withdrawal of stolen funds.
Other defendants who have been sentenced in the case include Muftau Adamu, alias “Muftau Adams,” of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 51 months in prison on June 7, 2019, Prince Nana Aggrey, 45, of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on May 10, 2019, and Assana Traore, 41, of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison on October 8, 2019.
Adamu and Aggrey each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and Traore pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive stolen money.
The Department said Maxwell Peter, 27, who resided in Tamale, Ghana, before his extradition, is standing trial for an indictment charging him with wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.
He is specifically alleged to have directed the transfer of funds from a June 2016 BEC to a co-conspirator in Africa.
The defendant is specifically alleged to have created and used the alias “Sandra Lin” in furtherance of these crimes.
From May through June of 2017, Peter is alleged to have communicated with an FBI agent acting in an undercover capacity to receive the proceeds of fraud.
Along with his coconspirators over the life of the conspiracy, the defendant is believed to have caused millions of dollars in losses to victims across the globe.
Seven other individuals have pleaded guilty to being involved in these schemes.
Benard E. Okorhi, 41, was extradited in March 2020 from Canada, and is detained pending trial.
Two others, Olufalojimi Abegunde, 33, and Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso, 30, were convicted in March after a seven-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.
Abegunde received a 78-month sentence and Ramos-Alonso received a 31-month sentence for their roles in the scheme. Several individuals remain at large.