Six Defendants Arrested in A number of States for Laundering the Proceeds of Fraud Schemes Focusing on Victims Throughout america by a Ghana-Based mostly Felony Enterprise | USAO-SDNY

Audrey Strauss, United States Lawyer for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Deputy Director in command of the New York Subject Workplace of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Jonathan D. Larsen , Particular Agent in command of the Inside Income Service’s New York Subject Workplace, Felony Investigations (“IRS-CI”), introduced the arrest of FAROUK APPIEDU, FRED ASANTE, CELVIN FREEMAN, LORD ANING, SADICK EDUSEI KISSI and FAISAL ALI, a / ok / a “Clarence Graveley”, on prices regarding their roles in a fraud and cash laundering conspiracy based mostly within the Republic of Ghana (“Ghana”) involving the theft of tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} . FREEMAN and ALI have been arrested earlier as we speak in New Jersey and can seem in Manhattan federal courtroom later as we speak. ASANTE and ANING have been arrested earlier as we speak in Virginia and can seem in america District Court docket for the Jap District of Virginia in Alexandria, Virginia. APPIEDU had beforehand been arrested in Queens, New York on October 18, 2020. KISSI had beforehand been arrested in Fargo, North Dakota on February 5, 2020.

Manhattan US Lawyer Audrey Strauss stated: “The fraud schemes alleged by these defendants have been profitable, numerous and above all insensitive. As alleged, they engaged in electronic mail spoofing, tricking older individuals on-line to switch cash to them and soliciting government-funded coronavirus aid funds meant for small enterprise profit affected by the pandemic. Because of the willpower of the IRS and the FBI, these defendants face critical jail sentences, and their subsequent on-line profiles may doubtlessly seem in a spot the place they’ll not be capable to fish for catfish – the Bureau of Prisons.

FBI Deputy Director William F. Sweeney, Jr. stated: “The scams we allege on this investigation embrace romance scams concentrating on the aged, work electronic mail scams and even fraudulent Covid aid easy loans. -19. In lots of instances of those and comparable instances of fraud, victims are reluctant to return ahead as a result of they worry embarrassment or injury to their fame. Some could even consider that the perpetrators are past our attain as a result of they usually stay overseas. These arrests and indictments ought to remind us that the FBI and our Legislation Enforcement Companions are right here that will help you and convey these gangs of criminals to justice. ”

IRS-CI Particular Agent Jonathan D. Larsen stated: “The arrests of the suspected leaders of this greater than $ 50 million scheme as we speak dealt a deadly blow to the huge felony exercise through which the defendants have been concerned, together with senior scams, COVID-19 fraud, cash laundering, amongst others. The IRS felony investigation will proceed to aggressively prosecute those that revenue from unlawful actions and be certain that allow them to be dropped at justice. ”

In line with the allegations contained within the indictments filed towards APPIEDU, ASANTE, FREEMAN, ANING and KISSI, a felony grievance filed towards ALI and different courtroom paperwork[1]:

Between at the least or round 2013 and at the least round 2020, the defendants have been members of a Ghana-based felony enterprise (the “Firm”) which carried out a collection of enterprise electronic mail compromises and romance scams. towards people and companies situated throughout the nation. United States, together with the Southern District of New York. The frauds perpetrated by the Firm have consisted, amongst different frauds, of compromises by skilled electronic mail, romance scams and fraud schemes associated to the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. First, the aim of the Firm’s enterprise electronic mail fraud scheme was to deceive and trick companies into transferring funds into Firm-controlled accounts utilizing electronic mail accounts that “spoof”. Or pretended to be staff of a victimized firm or of third events engaged in enterprise. with a sufferer firm. Second, the Firm carried out the romance scams utilizing digital messages despatched by electronic mail, textual content or on-line courting that tricked the victims, lots of whom have been believed to be weak older women and men dwelling alone. that the sufferer had a romantic relationship with a false identification assumed by the members of the Firm. As soon as the Firm members gained the victims’ belief by utilizing the false identification, they used false pretenses to trick the victims into wiring cash into financial institution accounts the victims believed to be managed by their romantic pursuits. , when in actual fact the financial institution accounts have been managed by members of the corporate. Lastly, the Firm submitted fraudulent mortgage purposes below a United States Small Enterprise Administration (“SBA”) mortgage program designed to offer help to small companies through the COVID-19 pandemic. , particularly the Catastrophe Financial Injury Mortgage (“EIDL”). Program. The corporate submitted fraudulent EIDL claims on behalf of actual corporations to the SBA and when an EIDL mortgage was accredited, the funds have been in the end deposited into financial institution accounts managed by members of the corporate, together with a number of the defendants.

APPIEDU, ASANTE, FREEMAN and ANING acquired fraud proceeds from Firm victims on dozens of business financial institution accounts they managed in New York, New Jersey and Virginia. The corporate financial institution accounts have been opened within the identify of corporations included by the defendants allegedly concerned in, amongst different issues, auto gross sales, meals imports and exports, in addition to truck transportation and transport of products. . As soon as APPIEDU, ASANTE, FREEMAN and ANING acquired the fraud proceeds on financial institution accounts below their management, they eliminated, transported and laundered such fraud proceeds from different members of the Firm to the international. The defendants primarily laundered the proceeds of the fraud by their companies by utilizing the proceeds to buy cars, meals and different items from US-based suppliers and distributors of such merchandise and by transport these merchandise. produced in Ghana and elsewhere. The defendants’ transactions had the looks of reliable enterprise transactions when in actual fact the merchandise had been bought utilizing the proceeds of fraudulent schemes. This trade-based cash laundering program was designed to hide the origin of the proceeds of fraud in addition to the identification of the last word beneficiaries of such packages.

Collectively, between or round 2013 and at the least round 2020, APPIEDU, ASANTE, FREEMAN and ANING managed greater than 45 financial institution accounts with deposits totaling roughly $ 55 million throughout this era. A big majority of the deposits consisted of huge wire transfers and checks or money deposits from varied individuals and entities based mostly in america who had been the victims of Firm fraud schemes, or funds for automobiles, meals and different items offered by defendants that have been bought utilizing the proceeds of the fraud. As a part of the APPIEDU investigation, the federal government has seized and is looking for the confiscation of 4 luxurious vehicles bought, at the least partly, with fraud proceeds, together with two 2019 Rolls Royce Cullinans, a 2020 Bentley Continental GT and a Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG.

KISSI acquired fraud proceeds from Firm victims in financial institution accounts it managed situated within the Bronx, New York and elsewhere. As soon as it acquired the fraud proceeds on financial institution accounts below its management, KISSI eliminated, transported and laundered such fraud proceeds from different members of the Firm situated in Ghana.

ALI acquired fraud proceeds from Firm victims on a collection of at the least 13 financial institution accounts at six totally different banks, which ALI managed within the Bronx, New York. ALI used the identify and identification of one other individual to open a number of of those financial institution accounts in an effort to conceal the proceeds of the fraud scheme. As soon as ALI acquired the fraud proceeds on financial institution accounts below its management, it eliminated, transported and laundered the fraud proceeds to different members of the corporate.

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FAROUK APPIEDU, 35, from Bronx, New York, FRED ASANTE, 35, from Fredericksburg, Va., CELVIN FREEMAN, 47, from East Orange, New Jersey, and LORD ANING, 28, from Woodbridge, Va. Every have been indicted in Indictment No. 21 Cr. 88 with one depend of conspiracy to commit digital fraud, one depend of digital fraud and one depend of conspiracy to commit cash laundering, every punishable by as much as 20 years in jail; one depend of conspiracy to obtain stolen cash, punishable by as much as 5 years in jail; and one depend of receiving stolen cash, punishable by as much as 10 years in jail. The case towards APPIEDU, ASANTE, FREEMAN and ANING is assigned to US District Choose Jed S. Rakoff.

SADICK EDUSEI KISSI, 24, of Dickinson, North Dakota, was charged in Indictment No.21 Cr. 64 with one depend of conspiracy to commit digital fraud and one depend of conspiracy to commit cash laundering, every punishable by as much as 20 years in jail; one depend of conspiracy to obtain stolen cash, punishable by as much as 5 years in jail; and one depend of receiving stolen cash, punishable by as much as 10 years in jail. The case towards KISSI is assigned to US District Choose Paul A. Crotty.

FAISAL ALI, a / ok / a “Clarence Graveley”, 34, of Orange, New Jersey, has been charged in a felony grievance of conspiracy to commit cash laundering, punishable by most sentence of 20 years in jail; one depend of constructing false statements to a financial institution, punishable by as much as 30 years in jail; one depend of conspiracy to obtain stolen cash, punishable by as much as 5 years in jail; and one depend of aggravated identification theft, punishable by a compulsory two-year jail sentence to be served consecutively to another sentence imposed.

The potential most sentences are prescribed by Congress and are supplied right here for informational functions solely, as any convictions of defendants will likely be decided by the choose.

Ms. Strauss praised the distinctive investigative work of the FBI and IRS-CI. Ms Strauss additionally thanked america Customs and Border Safety, Homeland Safety Investigations, the Workplace of the Inspector Normal of america Division of Justice, the FBI subject workplaces in Washington, DC. , Newark, New Jersey, Fredericksburg, Virginia and Fargo, North Dakota. , America Lawyer’s Workplace for the Jap District of Virginia, Virginia State Police, Fredericksburg, Arlington, and Prince William County Police Departments in Virginia, and the County Sheriff’s Workplace of Stafford, Va., for his or her help in investigating this matter.

The prosecution of this case is being dealt with by the Workplace’s Complicated Fraud and Cybercrime Unit. The deputy attorneys for america, Sagar Ok. Ravi and Mitzi Steiner, are accountable for the prosecution.


[1] Because the opening sentence signifies, the whole lot of the grievance and indictment and the outline of the grievance and indictment set forth herein represent allegations solely, and every reality described ought to be handled as an allegation.

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