Conspirators Targeted Elderly Men and Women Found on Online Dating Websites
Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Krist Koranteng, age 32, of Burtonsville and Laurel, Maryland, on conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering charges, in connection with a scheme to defraud elderly individuals which involved the conspirators pretending to be romantically interested in the victims in order to cause the victims to wire, deposit, and mail money to Koranteng. The total losses to the victims as a result of the scheme are alleged to be over $1.1 million. The indictment was returned on August 11, 2014, and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendant.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Kathy A. Michalko of the United States Secret Service - Washington Field Office; and Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department.
The 11 count indictment alleges that between September 2012 and February 2014, Koranteng and others executed a scheme in which the conspirators searched online dating websites, such as Chemistry.com and Match.com, to initiate romantic relationships with elderly men and women, in order to obtain money from those individuals. Members of the conspiracy used phone calls, emails, and text messages to form romantic relationships with the victims.
According to the indictment, the conspirators used a number of false stories and promises to convince the victims to give money to the members of the conspiracy, including: stories about investing in fake gold that required payments for shipping and storage; fictitious sick family members who needed money; fake hospital bills; and fake plane trips to visit the victims. Koranteng and members of the conspiracy convinced the victims to wire money into accounts controlled by Koranteng, or to mail checks to a corporation created and controlled by Koranteng.
To conceal the scheme from the victims, the conspirators created false documents, including false certificates of origin certifying the existence of gold bars, and false documentation creating the impression that the gold bars were being stored at a safe house for a fee.
Koranteng and other members of the conspiracy disbursed the money received from the victims by transferring money to other accounts, by withdrawing sums of money, and by writing checks to other individuals.
Koranteng faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of eight counts of mail and wire fraud; and a maximum of 10 years in prison for each of three counts of money laundering. Koranteng had his initial appearance at 2:00 p.m. today in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Koranteng is detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for August 25, 2014, at 11:30 a.m.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Secret Service and Montgomery County Police Department for their work in the investigation, and thanked the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for its assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Leah J. Bressack and David I. Salem, who are prosecuting the case.