Ghanaian National Sentenced for Online Romance Fraud Scheme

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NORFOLK, Va. – A Ghanaian national was sentenced on Friday to 40 months in prison for wire fraud as part of his scheme to defraud victims on a dating website. 

“The defendant repeatedly and shamelessly defrauded a recently widowed victim through a variety of manipulative tactics, leaving her in financial ruins,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “As this case demonstrates, reporting these scams to law enforcement helps us uncover the fraud schemes and bring scammers, like this defendant, to justice.”

According to court documents, Richard Yaw Dorpe, 38, posed as a single, 57-year-old man from Virginia Beach on “OurTime,” an online dating website for people over 50 years old. Dorpe purported to be a jeweler who was traveling abroad to buy gold and other jewelry before returning home to Virginia Beach. Dorpe met victim E.F., who was a 68-year-old recent widow from Chesapeake, on the website and started an online romantic relationship. Between August 2016 and January 2017, through his romantic manipulations, Dorpe convinced E.F. to send clothes, jewelry, a computer, a watch, and over $300,000 to him. Eventually, E.F. realized she was a victim of a scam, and was contacted by the FBI.  

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In January, Ghana approved the United States’ extradition request and the FBI brought Dorpe to the Eastern District of Virginia to face charges. Dorpe pleaded guilty to wire fraud in May.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen.

Valuable assistance concerning the extradition of Dorpe from Ghana to the United States was provided by Ghana’s Economic and Organized Crime Office, the Ghana Police Service, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the National Security Agency of Ghana, and the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Office of Ghana. Additional valuable assistance was provided by the FBI Legal Attaché Office, the DEA Country Liaison, the Regional Security Office, and staff at the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance in securing his extradition from Ghana.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Yusi prosecuted the case.

Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority of the Department of Justice. Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult. It is a term used to describe five subtypes of elder abuse: physical abuse, financial fraud, scams and exploitation, caregiver neglect and abandonment, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. Elder abuse is a serious crime against some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, affecting at least 10 percent of older Americans every year. Together with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners, the Department of Justice is steadfastly committed to combatting all forms of elder abuse and financial exploitation through enforcement actions, training and resources, research, victim services, and public awareness. This holistic and robust response demonstrates the Department’s unwavering dedication to fighting for justice for older Americans.

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A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:19-cr-53.

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