BOSTON – A Ghanaian national was arrested yesterday on wire fraud and money laundering charges involving funds obtained from “romance scam” victims.
Kofi Osei, a/k/a Paul Proia, a/k/a Kenneth Buck, a/k/a Jeffrey Anashe, 28, who most recently resided in Randolph, was indicted on seven counts of making a false statement to a bank, six counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. Osei was detained following an initial appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell.
According to the indictment, from approximately 2016 to at least 2020, Osei opened bank accounts in the greater Boston area using fake identity documents. Those bank accounts were used to receive fraudulently obtained funds from a number of victims of romance scams, in which perpetrators created fictitious online personas to develop online romantic relationships with individuals in the U.S., and then leveraged those relationships to obtain money and/or property. Once the fraudulently obtained funds reached the accounts, it is alleged that Osei generally withdrew the money in cash, used the funds to purchase cashier’s checks or spent the money on personal purchases. Altogether, the fraudulent accounts received $1.7 million.
The charge of making a false statement to a bank provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme, whichever is greater. The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the criminally derived property. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen A. Kearney of Lelling’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.