CINCINNATI – A dual Ghanaian and American citizen currently residing in Ohio was indicted for crimes related to a romance-fraud conspiracy and making false statements on a COVID‑relief application.
Benjamin Adu Acheampong, 37, of Fairfield, Ohio, is charged in a 7-count indictment.
According to the indictment, from January 2019 through July 2021, Acheampong conspired with others to create false online profiles, which the conspirators used to express romantic interest in victims. Once the victim believed he or she was in a romantic relationship with the person pictured in the online profile, the coconspirators, using false pretenses, would convince the victims to send money by mail or by wire transfer. For example, the conspirators commonly falsely represented that the person pictured in the online profile was expecting a large inheritance of gold and needed financial assistance to bring it to the United States, or that he or she needed money for a plane ticket or medical expenses.
Acheampong allegedly laundered part of the $1 million in scam proceeds through multiple bank accounts, including bank accounts he opened in the name of ABA Automotive & Export LLC, an Ohio LLC he created.
It is alleged the money was laundered by making wire transfers, including to accounts in Africa, and by falsely representing that the transfers were for, among other things, paying workers and family expenses.
In addition, the indictment alleges that Acheampong made false statements to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan application, which resulted in the SBA awarding him more than $20,000 in COVID relief to which he was not entitled.
Acheampong is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, two counts of international money laundering, and two counts of concealment money laundering, each of which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Acheampong is also charged with one count of making false statements to an agent of the United States, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the charges. Assistant United States Attorney Julie D. Garcia is representing the United States in this case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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