A Canal Winchester man found guilty in a May jury trial of 35 counts of money laundering the proceeds of online romance scams was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Columbus to five years in prison.
Seth Nyamekye, 40, of Canal Winchester, also was ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution to the victims of the romance scams.
Kenneth Parker, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said Nyamekye conducted financial transactions to conceal that money was generated by fraud and to get the money to co-conspirators in Ghana.
“This defendant helped fraudsters prey on vulnerable peoples’ desires for love and connection,” Parker said. He deserves the sentence he received today.”
Last month, another defendant, Edward Amankwah, 45, of Westerville, admitted to conspiring to launder nearly $4.3 million through bank accounts in his control as part of a romance scam.
Romance scammers: Westerville man pleads guilty to role in laundering nearly $4.3M in online romance scams
The romance scams involved individuals who created several profiles, some purporting to be members of the military, on online dating sites. They then contacted victims throughout the United States and abroad, with whom they cultivated romance.
After establishing relationships, perpetrators of the romance scams requested money, typically for investment or need-based reasons, and provided account information and directions for where money should be sent, prosecutors said.
Nyamekye was not charged with defrauding the victims himself, but instead was charged with laundering the proceeds of the romance fraud.
Nyamekye 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, prosecutors said.
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, prosecutors said.
Nyamekye was charged by a criminal complaint in October 2020 and was later indicted in May 2021.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Laundering romance scam funds gets Canal Winchester man 5-year sentence