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Press Release

Woodbridge Man Sentenced for Defrauding the Elderly in Romance Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Woodbridge man was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for conspiring to launder money in relation to romance and investment frauds.

According to court documents, from 2014 to March 2019, Ishmael Kayede, 40, conspired and agreed with multiple co-conspirators to launder funds derived from mail or wire fraud schemes, including romance fraud, gold and diamond investment fraud, and other fraud scams. During his participation in this money laundering conspiracy, Kayede received funds in his bank accounts from victims of those romance and other fraud schemes while working with and at the direction of associates located in foreign jurisdictions, including Ghana.

Kayede’s co-conspirators largely targeted elderly victims in the United States, primarily using online dating websites such as They would befriend potential victims on the dating websites using false pretenses and would then exploit that trust to convince the victims to send money to Kayede’s bank accounts. Kayede would then transmit the funds to Ghana. If he had trouble moving the money, he would lie to bank officials about the source and nature of the funds. Some victims targeted by the scheme lost thousands of dollars; others lost more than a hundred thousand dollars to the defendant’s activities. In total, Kayede received and laundering approximately $1.3 million over the course of his involvement with the scheme.

Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority of the Department of Justice. Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult. It is a term used to describe five subtypes of elder abuse: physical abuse, financial fraud, scams and exploitation, caregiver neglect and abandonment, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. Elder abuse is a serious crime against some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, affecting at least 10 percent of older Americans every year. Together with our federal, state, local and tribal partners, the Department of Justice is steadfastly committed to combatting all forms of elder abuse and financial exploitation through enforcement actions, training and resources, research, victim services, and public awareness. This holistic and robust response demonstrates the Department’s unwavering dedication to fighting for justice for older Americans.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311. The hotline is staffed 10am-6pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Keim and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Carina Cuellar prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:23-cr-94.

Updated September 21, 2023

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud