Gaithersburg Brothers Facing Federal Charge for Their Roles in a $5 Million Romance Scheme
Allegedly Stole and Laundered over $5 Million from About 200 Victims Around the World
Greenbelt, Maryland – David Annor, age 27, and Lesley Annor, age 22, both of Gaithersburg, Maryland, were arrested on November 16, 2020, on the federal charge of money laundering, in connection with an alleged romance scheme in which the participants in the scheme induce their victims, often people who are elderly and isolated, to send money to other co-conspirators based on romantic assertions and other misrepresentations, including promises to travel to the United States to unite with the victims. The Annors allegedly received and laundered the payments from the victims.
The federal charge was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; and Special Agent in Charge Matthew S. Miller of the United States Secret Service - Washington Field Office.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur stated, “The criminal complaint charges that these defendants were part of a conspiracy that stole from many vulnerable and elderly victims from around the world, defrauding them through lies and laundering the funds internationally. The deceit used to steal from these victims was heartless. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to bringing to justice fraudsters who prey upon the elderly. We will continue our outreach efforts to make the public aware of scams and frauds targeting elderly victims and encourage anyone who believes they may be a victim to contact the Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).”
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the Annors are part of a romance scheme in which their co-conspirators find their victims online, typically through social media or dating websites, and communicate with the victims using e-mail, cell phones and online applications. The complaint alleges that since April 2017, the brothers and another co-conspirator have received and laundered over $5 million from approximately 200 romance fraud victims throughout the United States and overseas. The age range of the known victims is from 38 to 83 years old.
Specifically, the affidavit alleges that David registered a business entity in the State of Maryland called Ravid Enterprise LLC, a shell company through which the conspirators laundered the proceeds of the fraud scheme. According to the articles of organization, Ravid Enterprise is “a car sale business where buyers come in to get cars which are from the auction.” David is listed as the resident agent for the company and his Gaithersburg residence—which is an apartment—is the registered address of the company. Bank records show that between at least May 2017 and September 2020, David and Lesley Annor opened or maintained bank accounts at 10 different financial institutions, including accounts opened in the name of Ravid Enterprise, for the purpose of receiving payments from victims of the romance scheme.
As detailed in the criminal complaint, the Annors’ co-conspirators made contact with the victims and after convincing the victims that they were in a romantic relationship, requested money from the victims for various purposes, often assuring the victims that they would be repaid. The co-conspirators provided the victims with details on where to send the payments, which were accounts controlled by the Annors or another co-conspirator, or their mailing address, where victims would mail cashier’s checks. The eight victims described in the criminal complaint each allegedly lost between $17,500 and $201,000.
The criminal complaint alleges that after receiving the victim payments, the Annors sent a portion of the money to other co-conspirators, often located in Ghana, and kept at least 10 percent of the victim payments for themselves. The Annors also allegedly laundered the victim payments by sending each other wires, checks, and possibly cash.
If convicted, David and Lesley Annor each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for money laundering. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. David and Lesley Annor had initial appearances and detention hearings in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt and U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day ordered that they both be detained pending trial.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregory Bernstein and Leah B. Grossi, who are prosecuting the case.
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