Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation ("IRS-CI"), announced that Deborah Mensah, a Ghanaian citizen, was extradited from the Republic of Ghana ("Ghana") to the United States on August 21, 2020.
Mensah was arrested on January 16, 2020, in Accra, Ghana for charges in connection with a fraud conspiracy based in Ghana involving the theft of over $10 million through business email compromises and romance scams that targeted the elderly from at least in or about 2014 through in or about 2018. Mensah is the eighth defendant charged in the case. Mensah was presented this morning in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman. Mensah's case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote.
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."
Mensah and her co-conspirators received or otherwise directed the receipt of over $10 million in fraud proceeds from victims of the Enterprise in bank accounts that she and other members of the Enterprise controlled in the Bronx, New York. Some of these bank accounts were opened using fake names, stolen identities, or shell companies in order to avoid detection and hide the true identities of the members of the Enterprise controlling those accounts. Once Mensah received the fraud proceeds in bank accounts under her control, she withdrew, transported, and laundered those fraud proceeds to other members of the Enterprise, including those located in Ghana. Mensah also used the name and identity of another person to withdraw or otherwise direct the withdrawal of stolen funds.
Other defendants in this case who have been sentenced include Muftau Adamu, aka "Muftau Adams," aka "Muftau Iddrissu," of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 51 months in prison on June 7, 2019; Prince Nana Aggrey, of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on May 10, 2019; and Assana Traore, of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison on October 8, 2019. Adamu and Aggrey each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and Traore pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive stolen money. Each of the defendants was sentenced by Judge Cote.
The Department in a separate statement announced that another accused BEC scammer, Maxwell Peter, also a Ghanaian citizen had been extradited to the U.S. to face charges in an unrelated case.
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.
The indictment alleges that Maxwell and his various Africa-based co-conspirators committed, or caused to be committed, a series of intrusions into the servers and email systems of a Memphis-based real estate company in June and July 2016. Using sophisticated anonymization techniques, including the use of spoofed email addresses and Virtual Private Networks, the co-conspirators identified large financial transactions, initiated fraudulent email correspondence with relevant business parties and then redirected closing funds through a network of U.S.-based money mules to final destinations in Africa.
This should serve as a warning to all those involved in 419 internet scams. The long arm of the law in the United States will grab you, no matter how long it takes.
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