Michigan Man Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Participating In Romance Scams And Other Fraud Schemes Targeting Elderly Victims
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TIMY HAKIM was sentenced to two years in prison and an additional six months in home detention for his participation in a conspiracy to defraud at least 15 victims of romance schemes, lottery scams, and business email compromise schemes. HAKIM was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Hakim and his co-conspirators devastated elderly and vulnerable victims, including recent widowers. Several of the victims lost their entire life savings and one victim reported becoming suicidal. A U.S. citizen, Hakim provided co-conspirators in South Africa with U.S. phones used to contact and deceive victims and opened and operated bank accounts that laundered the victims’ money. He will now spend time in prison and be compelled to make restitution to the victims of the schemes.”
According to Count One of the Information to which HAKIM pled guilty and other statements and submissions made in Court:
From at least in or about 2015 up to and including November 2019, HAKIM participated in an international wire fraud conspiracy that left at least 15 people and entities with over $1.4 million in losses. HAKIM facilitated the laundering of proceeds of three types of fraud schemes, a “Romance Scheme,” a “Lottery Scheme,” and a “BEC Fraud Scheme.” Through the Romance Scheme, a vulnerable individual was led to believe she or he was in a romantic online relationship with a perpetrator of the Scheme, when in fact, the perpetrator merely used this as a mechanism to build the victim’s trust and solicit the victim’s money. Through the Lottery Scheme, the scheme participants informed certain victims that they had won a cash prize but first needed to make certain payments to access the funds. Through the BEC Fraud Scheme, the scheme participants induced a corporate victim located in Manhattan to release company funds under fraudulent pretenses by impersonating the founder of the company.
HAKIM controlled multiple U.S. and foreign bank accounts that received funds from victims targeted by these schemes. HAKIM also obtained and provided his foreign co-conspirators in South Africa with cell phones with American numbers subscribed to his plan, which were used to contact and defraud victims. And on at least one occasion, HAKIM personally contacted a victim pretending to be a government official involved in detaining the victim’s partner to induce the victim to send money.
At least 15 individual and corporate victims lost money as part of HAKIM and his co-conspirators’ schemes. They include vulnerable, isolated, and elderly victims, who entered into relationships after the deaths of their spouses and, over a period of several years, were induced to drain their entire retirement savings and take out loans from family and friends. Many victims experienced severe emotional harm, including a woman who reported becoming suicidal after losing her retirement savings to this scheme.
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In addition to his prison term, HAKIM, 47, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, including six months to be spent in home detention, and was ordered to pay $1,414,043 in restitution and to forfeit $671,452.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vladislav Vainberg is in charge of the prosecution.