A federal court in Boston sentenced Ghana-born Kofi Osei to 54 months in prison for helping steal millions of dollars from hundreds of victims who were trustfully seeking companionship on online dating sites, said a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Tuesday’s sentence against 30-year-old Osei also includes restitution and forfeiture of US$4,122,558 and two years of supervised release.
Between 2016 and 2020, Osei, who originally came to the U.S. to pursue a professional football career, and his accomplices created numerous fake dating profiles with which they managed to generate more than $8 million.
Osei personally opened at least 77 bank accounts with fake passports, at which he was receiving and quickly withdrawing proceeds from the fraud. The press release specified that $4 million went directly into accounts opened and controlled by Osei.
The press release said that Osei pleaded guilty in 2022 to seven counts of making a false statement to a bank, six counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.
One of the victims said that she was in 2016 contacted by Osei posing as an overseas oil rig worker “William Karlsen”.
They arranged to meet in Florida, where the woman lived, but Karlsen said that he could not travel because there was an explosion on his oil rig and he was detained by authorities in Dubai.
The woman subsequently paid $201,000 in several installments for Karlsen’s release to one of the accounts controlled by Osei.
Another victim was defrauded of $65,000 by Osei alias “William Woodcox” allegedly working in France, who said his worksite suffered an accident and he needed money to assist his injured colleagues and to be released from jail.
Romance scams in the U.S. have been on the rise in recent years.
In 2022, there were 70,000 romance scam incidents reported with declared losses of $1.3 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
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