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Press Release

Delaware Woman Arrested for International Sextortion and Money Laundering Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Delaware woman was arrested today in Delaware on criminal charges related to her role in an international sextortion scheme that targeted thousands of victims throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

According to an indictment unsealed today, from May 2020 through December 2022, Hadja Kone, 28, of Wilmington, and Siaka Ouattara, 22, of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and other co-conspirators allegedly operated an international, financially motivated sextortion and money laundering scheme in which the conspirators engaged in cyberstalking, interstate threats, money laundering, and wire fraud. Through the scheme, Kone, Outtara, and others attempted to extort approximately $6 million from thousands of potential victims and successfully extorted approximately $1.7 million from those victims, using CashApp and ApplePay accounts alone. 

As alleged in the indictment, Ouattara and others posed as young, attractive females online and initiated communications with thousands of potential victims, who were primarily young men and included minors from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  Ouattara and others allegedly offered to provide and/or provided victims with sexual photographs, video recordings, and/or “web cam” or “live video chat” sessions of what they falsely portrayed to be an attractive young female, when in fact they were the ones operating the accounts. Unbeknownst to the victims, during the web cam/live video chats, Ouattara and others surreptitiously recorded the victims as they exposed their genitals and/or engaged in sexual activity. Ouattara and others sent the victims copies of the victims’ fraudulently obtained sexual images and threatened to distribute the victims’ sexual images to the victims’ friends, family members, significant others, employers, and co-workers and to publish the victims’ sexual images widely online, unless the victims transferred funds to designated recipients. Ouattara, Kone, and others also operated infrastructure to transfer the funds illegally obtained from the victims to Ouattara and others located in Côte d’Ivoire and elsewhere overseas.

On Feb. 24, Ivoirian authorities separately arrested Ouattara in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on Ivoirian charges stemming from the same scheme.

Kone and Ouattara are each charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and to send interstate threats, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, money laundering, and wire fraud. If convicted, Kone and Ouattara each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each conspiracy count and money laundering count, and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count. 

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss for the District of Delaware; and Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division made the announcement.

The FBI is investigating the case, with assistance from the government of Cote d’Ivoire.

Trial Attorney Austin Berry of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Briana Knox for the District of Delaware are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated April 12, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-439