It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track to the growing body of cases involving Internet-based “romance fraud.” Sadly, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
reports that “romance fraud is the seventh-most reported scam” (IC3 Public Service Announcement, 8/15/2019). While your chances of being targeted are statistically remote, it is clear that
scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their resources, communications skills, strategies, and scam execution. This is particularly true in their ability to target certain demographics
that are more susceptible to this type of scam. If you are (or suspect you are) a victim of romance fraud, do not hesitate to contact the FBI IC3 (ic3.gov
Needless to say, everybody using legitimate Internet-based dating services (or social media, a rich source of personal information for scammers) prefers to confirm the credibility
of their contacts, but for a variety of reasons, many fail to take the necessary steps to do so. Understandably, while the FBI (and other agencies) will investigate the crime, they are
not in a position to advise romance “candidates” in the beginning or early stages of the relationship.
ALBANY, NEW YORK – William Y. Asiedu, age 27, of Albany, pled guilty today to wire fraud conspiracy, arising from his receipt of nearly $450,000 from the victims of romance scams.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Thomas F. Relford, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In pleading guilty, Asiedu admitted that he agreed to receive the proceeds of a fraudulent scheme, and to distribute the proceeds to his co-conspirators in Ghana, in exchange for a 5 to 10 percent share for himself.
Between October 2018 and May 2019, two victims, one from Arizona and the other from Switzerland, sent a total of $445,333 to bank accounts standing in the name of Community Youth Development Council Incorporated, an entity that Asiedu incorporated in New York. Asiedu’s co-conspirators falsely led each victim to believe that she was sending the money for the benefit of a man she met through an online dating web site. In fact, Asiedu’s co-conspirators posed as these fake lovers, and fraudulently induced the victims to send money to Asiedu.
Asiedu faces up to 20 years in prison, and up to 3 years of supervised release, when Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy sentences him on October 15, 2020. Additionally, Asiedu has agreed to pay $445,333 in restitution, and to forfeit currency worth more than $10,000. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett.
Private Investigation Services Group (PISG) in the South Carolina Low Country can provide a quick and cost effective solution to the challenge of discreetly conducting a background check and identify verification for clients that wish to connect with, or are already connected with a potential romantic partner. The initial consultation is always complimentary.
No matter who you reach out to, PISG urges the public to do their homework before entrusting your personal information to strangers, and to understand that your financial stability may be materially jeopardized as a result of well intended, but misplaced trust. We can help call us at (843) 757-4391.