Dual citizen gets max for laundering romance scam proceeds
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – A 39-year-old man who holds citizenship in the United States and Ghana has been sent to prison for operating an illegal money transmitting business, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Kenneth Anim, who had resided in the Houston and Richmond areas, pleaded guilty April 27.
U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein has now ordered Anim to serve 60 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution. In handing down the sentence, the court noted the length of the scheme and that while Anim may not have known who the victims were specifically, they were in fact vulnerable members of society.
“Anim profited off the elderly and vulnerable. He knew victims were being defrauded but helped launder the money anyway by operating as an illegal money transmitter,” said Hamdani. “The sentence shows that we will not let money launderers for romance scammers try to hide behind the excuse that they didn’t know details about where the money was coming from.”
“Kenneth Anim was a mule who, for years, knew that the millions of dollars he was depositing in numerous banks were stolen from victims through false promises,” said Special Agent in Charge James Smith of the FBI Houston field office. “Yet his greed was stronger than his principles, and he chose to continue to receive money from romance scam victims, most of them senior citizens. As long as con artists like Anim exist and victims continue to fall for their lies, the FBI will continue to call attention to these scams and go after the people behind them.”
Anim admitted that from 2014 to 2019, he operated an unlicensed money transmitting business to launder funds from wire fraud schemes including internet fraud and romance scams. Anim ran the unlicensed money transmitting business by using shell companies that existed only on paper.
As part of the plea, he acknowledged opening and maintaining bank accounts to collect proceeds from internet and romance fraud schemes to send the money to himself, co-conspirators and overseas.
A romance scam occurs when criminals adopt fake online identities to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a close relationship to induce the victim, under false pretenses, to send money to the scammer.
Amin has been and will remain in custody pending U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Belinda Beek and Grace Murphy are prosecuting the case.
Updated July 31, 2023