COLUMBUS – Three central Ohio men have been indicted on federal money-laundering chargers in connection with online romance scams authorities say they ran for more than five years.
Federal authorities say Robert Asante, 35, of Canal Winchester; Kwame Yeboah, 36, of Columbus, and Eric Ahiekpor, 49, of Lewis Center, created profiles on online dating sites and contacted men and women throughout the U.S. and elsewhere, cultivating a sense of affection and romance before asking for money, typically for investment or emergencies.
The indictment alleges the trio laundered their funds by transferring money to other accounts, buying official checks, sending wires to Ghana, China, and the United States, and more.
Part of the conspiracy was for the defendants to move the romance fraud proceeds from the United States to Ghana, according to a release from the office of U.S. Attorney David DeVillers.
Conspiracy to launder money is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
U.S. Marshals arrested Ahiekpor Tuesday and he was arraigned before a U.S. Magistrate Judge Thursday.
Asante and Yeboah have court appearances scheduled for June 29.