COLUMBUS – A Canal Winchester man was sentenced in federal court to five years in prison on Thursday after being found guilty of money laundering in connection with an online romance scam.
Seth Nyamekye, who was found guilty of 35 counts of money laundering, following a jury trial in May, was also ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution to the victims.
Prosecutors say at least eight people sent money directly to Nyamekye’s bank account, including one who was scammed out of $170,000, because they believed they were sending it to someone who was interested in them romantically.
Nyamekye, 40, was not charged with defrauding the victims himself, but instead was charged with laundering the proceeds of the romance fraud between 2016 and 2018.
The perpetrators of the romance scams created several profiles on online dating sites and then contacted men and women, cultivating a sense of affection or romance with the victims before requesting money for emergencies or investments, authorities said.
The scammers provided victims with bank account information where the money should be sent, including one controlled by Nyamekye.
One of the victims 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 third 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 money and then conducted financial transactions to move the funds so the perpetrators could use it, federal authorities said.