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Description: Columbus, Ohio criminal law lawyer represented Defendant charged with money laundering in violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1956, which provides:
(1) Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, conducts or attempts to conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity—
(i) with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity; or
(ii) with intent to engage in conduct constituting a violation of section 7201 or 7206 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; or
(B) knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part—
(i) to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity; or
(ii) to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under State or Federal law,
shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both. For purposes of this paragraph, a financial transaction shall be considered to be one involving the proceeds of specified unlawful activity if it is part of a set of parallel or dependent transactions, any one of which involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, and all of which are part of a single plan or arrangement.
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Seth Nyamekye, 40, was convicted for his role in laundering the proceeds of online romance scams also ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution to the victims of the romance fraud.
“This defendant helped fraudsters prey on vulnerable peoples’ desires for love and connection,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “Nyamekye conducted financial transactions to conceal that money was generated by fraud and to get the money to co-conspirators in Ghana. He deserves the sentence he received today.”
According to court documents and trial testimony, the perpetrators of the romance scams created several profiles on online dating sites and then contacted men and women throughout the United States and elsewhere. The scammers cultivated a sense of affection and, often, romance, with the victims they met online before requesting money for investment or need-based reasons. The romance scam perpetrators then provided victims with bank account information where the money should be sent. Nyamekye controlled one of these accounts and received more than $1.3 million in romance fraud proceeds from victims. Nyamekye was not charged with defrauding the victims himself, but instead was charged with laundering the proceeds of the romance fraud.
The government proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that Nyamekye laundered the victims’ money on behalf of the conspiracy. The defendant conspired with others from at least June 2016 until February 2018 to commit money laundering in multiple transactions of more than $10,000 with the purpose of concealing the fraudulent nature of the proceeds.
At least eight victims sent their money directly to Nyamekye’s bank account, which was in the name of Gloseth Ventures LLC. For example, one victim was defrauded by a purported member of the military and sent a $170,000 wire transfer to Nyamekye’s bank account. Another victim fell in love with a man he met online who also claimed to be in the military overseas and sent two wire transfers to Nyamekye totaling $73,000. A separate victim believed she was engaged to the man who was scamming her and sent $50,000 to the defendant’s bank account.
After the funds were deposited into Nyamekye’s bank account, Nyamekye took a cut of the victims’ money and then conducted financial transactions to move the funds where the perpetrators of the romance fraud could enjoy the criminal proceeds.
Nyamekye was charged by a criminal complaint in October 2020 and was later indicted in May 2021.
If you believe you are the victim of an online romance scam, you can file a complaint at ic3.gov.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; and Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Cincinnati Field Office, announced the verdict. Assistant United States Attorneys Peter K. Glenn-Applegate and David J. Twombly represented the United States in this case.
Outcome: Defendant sentenced to sixty (60) months of incarceration on Counts 1 through 35 of the Indictment, to run concurrently; defendant sentenced to three (3) years of supervised release on Counts 1 through 35 of the Indictment, to run concurrently; restitution ordered in the amount of $1,363,592.60; forfeiture ordered as outlined in the Indictment, including but not limited to a sum of money in the form of a forfeiture money judgment in an amount to be determined; no fine imposed; special assessment of $3,500 is applied.