Columbus, Ohio – Samuel Antwi, a citizen of Ghana and former Columbus resident, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to crimes resulting from his involvement in laundering money obtained through online romance scams.
After being charged on Valentine’s Day in 2018, Antwi fled the United States. He was arrested in Ghana in July 2021at the request of the United States and Ghanaian authorities extradited Antwi back to Columbus to face his pending charges. He has remained in custody since his extradition.
According to court documents, the perpetrators of the romance scams created several profiles on online dating sites. The scammers then contacted men and women throughout the United States and elsewhere, established relationships with the victims and ultimately asked for money. The victims received account information and were directed to send money to those accounts, including some controlled by Antwi. The fraud generated millions of dollars in proceeds. Antwi is not charged with perpetrating the romance scams, but instead is charged with laundering the proceeds to conceal or disguise their criminal source.
“Scammers use online dating sites to build trust relationships with victims and persuade them to send money or share personal and financial information,” said U.S Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “As Valentine’s Day approaches, remember, never send money to someone you have only met online. If you are the victim of a romance scam, file a complaint at ic3.gov.”
Court documents spell out Antwi’s involvement in the scheme. He used a company he established, E.N.O. Services, to launder the money. From at least December 2013 through May 2015, Antwi knowingly laundered or attempted to launder $331,150 using bank accounts in his name and his company’s name. Antwi also unlawfully possessed stolen credit card numbers and other confidential personal information of others. Between April 26, 2016, and May 18, 2016, he possessed at least 87 stolen credit card numbers.
Antwi pleaded guilty to one count of concealment money laundering and one count of access device fraud. The parties have agreed to a term of incarceration of between 24 and 30 months, and restitution to victims of $291,150.
Antwi was one of eight people charged on Valentine’s Day 2018 in connection with the romance scam money laundering. Six have received sentences ranging from 42 months in prison to 30 months of probation. One defendant remains at large.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Cincinnati Field Office; Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Pittsburgh Division; and Vance Callender, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced the guilty plea entered before U.S. District Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley. Assistant United States Attorney Peter K. Glenn-Applegate is representing the United States in this case.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division worked with law enforcement partners in Ghana to secure the arrest of Antwi in Ghana and his extradition to the United States.
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