Jury Convicts Virginia Man of $3 Million Romance Fraud Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Dumfries, Virginia, man was convicted by a federal jury today for his role in wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies as part of a nearly $3 million romance fraud scheme.
Henry N. Asomani, 34, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ghana, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of money laundering. The court ordered Asomani taken into federal custody at the close of today’s proceedings to await sentencing.
Evidence introduced during the trial indicated that Asomani was the middle man who received the proceeds of the fraud conspiracy from unknown co-conspirators into his bank accounts. Asomani transferred the funds among various accounts; he kept a portion of the proceeds for himself, and funneled the rest of the proceeds to co-conspirators in Ghana. Asomani operated five different companies with 16 different accounts at eight different banks.
Asomani received a total of $2,993,354 from more than a dozen victims across the United States, including three victims in the Kansas City metropolitan area, from Sept. 15, 2015, to Oct. 17, 2017. Although bank investigators and FBI agents repeatedly warned Asomani that his bank accounts were receiving the proceeds of a fraud scheme, he continued to receive the funds and simply closed accounts when funds were frozen, then opened new accounts at a different bank.
Unknown co-conspirators targeted individuals through online dating websites with various romance frauds. The unknown co-conspirators impersonated individuals who were involved in businesses overseas. They convinced the victims that they needed funds to help with moving gold from a foreign country, orphanage expenses, and school and travel expenses. The co-conspirators told the victims they would share the profits when the gold was returned to the United States. In fact, none of the victims received any profit or received any gold from the co-conspirators.
For example, one victim who resides in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, set up a profile on ChristianMingle.com following the death of her husband to brain cancer. In October 2015, an individual claiming to be “Larry B. White” initiated contact with her. Following numerous conversations by email and telephone, “White” convinced the victim to invest in a Ghana gold mine. “White” promised a 40 percent return on the investment of money. From November 2015 through January 2016, under the direction of “White,” the victim sent funds to multiple entities by check and wire totaling approximately $3,292,000. Of that amount, $2,292,000 was transferred to accounts controlled by Asomani. Asomani spent $50,000 of those proceeds to make a down payment on a 2019 silver Lexus NX300. To date, the victim has not received any money or gold profits from “White.”
Another victim, who resides in Kansas City, Missouri, met “Bradley Fischer” on ChristianMingle.com. “Fischer” convinced the victim to send funds for school expenses, travel expenses, and to start a new life in Kansas City. On July 19, 2017, the victim wired $24,000 to Asomani’s bank account. “Fischer” promised to pay the victim back when he got to Kansas City. To date, the victim has received $1,000 back from “Fischer.”
Other victims reside in New Jersey, Alaska, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Kansas, and Iowa.
Asomani wired $1,789,416 from his bank accounts in the United States to bank accounts in Ghana. He spent approximately $342,278 on auto purchases and auto- or shipping-related expenses as part of the money-laundering scheme. Asomani shipped 18 vehicles to Ghana, having a declared value of approximately $284,190.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., deliberated for approximately two hours before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark, ending a trial that began Monday, Dec. 9.
Under federal statutes, Asomani is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole on each of the four conspiracy and wire fraud counts, and up to 10 years in federal prison without parole on each of the two money laundering counts. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul S. Becker and Matthew Blackwood. It was investigated by the FBI.