Two Ghanaian citizens have been extradited from Ghana to the United States over their alleged roles in a multi-million cyber fraud.
33-year-old Deborah Mensah was arrested on January 16, 2020, in Accra, while Maxwell Peter, 27, before his extradition, was standing trial for an indictment charging him with wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to a Daily Graphic report that quotes the US Department of Justice, Deborah Mensah is “charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”
The Department in a separate statement also announced that another, Maxwell Peter, had been extradited to the U.S. to face charges in an unrelated case.
“Mensah is also charged with one count of receipt of stolen money, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to receive stolen money, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed,” the report explained further.
Deborah Mensah is accused of stealing over $10million between 2014 and 2018 through business email compromises (BEC) and romance scams that targeted elderly Americans.
“She is the eighth person to be charged as part of the investigation and made an appearance before a Manhattan federal court on August 26, 2020.
“Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: ‘Deborah Mensah is alleged to have been a participant in a conspiracy that resulted in the theft of millions of dollars from businesses and vulnerable individuals across the United States, and the laundering of that money through a network of bank accounts in the Bronx to co-conspirators in Ghana. Now she is in the United States and facing charges under U.S. law,’” the Daily Graphic report stated.
Other defendants in this case who have been sentenced include Muftau Adamu, alias “Muftau Adams,” of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 51 months in prison on June 7, 2019; Prince Nana Aggrey, 45, of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on May 10, 2019; and Assana Traore, 41, of the Bronx, New York, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison on October 8, 2019.
Adamu and Aggrey each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and Traore pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive stolen money.
Maxwell Peter, who resided in Tamale, Ghana, before his extradition is standing trial for an indictment charging him with wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The indictment alleges that Maxwell and his various Africa-based co-conspirators committed, or caused to be committed, a series of intrusions into the servers and email systems of a Memphis-based real estate company in June and July 2016.
Using sophisticated anonymisation techniques, including the use of spoofed email addresses and Virtual Private Networks, the co-conspirators identified large financial transactions, initiated fraudulent email correspondence with relevant business parties and then redirected closing funds through a network of U.S.-based money mules to final destinations in Africa.
The defendant is specifically alleged to have directed the transfer of funds from a June 2016 BEC to a co-conspirator in Africa.