RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — An active duty servicemember stationed at Fort Bragg has been arrested and charged in a romantic scheme that targeted vulnerable people, U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said Friday.
According to indictments, 33-year-old Sanda G. Frimpong and other conspirators engaged in elaborate scams by impersonating romantic love interests, diplomats, customs personnel, military personnel, and other fictitious personas for the purpose of ensnaring their victims by earning their confidence, a release from Easley stated.
These scams included promises of romance, sharing of an inheritance or other riches or other scenarios intended to fraudulently induce the victims to provide money or property to the conspirators, according to Easley.
Frimpong is believed to have laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds of these frauds through his various bank accounts across state lines and through contacts in Ghana.
“Online romance scams are increasingly targeting lonely, vulnerable, and often elderly victims,” Easley said.
According to the 19-count indictment, in a separate scam, Frimpong and others fraudulently applied for unemployment assistance in various states, using stolen identities. This included obtaining more than $100,000 in funds intended for those struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic and made available via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act.
“Our office is committed to seeking justice for fraud victims just as we are to prosecuting those who took advantage of programs intended to help unemployed and underemployed folks who struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Easley said.
Charges against Frimpong in connection with multiple interstate and international fraud and money-laundering scams. include:
- money laundering,
- aggravated identity theft, and
- access device fraud.
Frimpong faces between up to 10 and up to 20 years in prison per count, and potential fines.