A US-based Ghanaian, Fred Asante, has been sentenced to nine years in prison by US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for money laundering involving a criminal enterprise based in Ghana.
Fred Asante is said to have led the scam, which made more than $36.4 million over a four-year periodn.
Together with the enterprise in Ghana, Mr Asante scammed businesses, tricked older victims into online romances and illegally applied for US federal Covid-19 loans.
He was arrested on February 17, 2021, in Virginia and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering on February 16, 2022, before District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, imposed the sentence on Wednesday, May 18.
In addition to the prison term, Asante, 37, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
He was also ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $647,488 and restitution in the amount of $2,292,486.71.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Fred Asante set up companies that appeared to be involved in legitimate business, but in reality they were simply fronts that he used to receive and launder millions of dollars for a criminal enterprise in Ghana that defrauded American businesses and individuals through online scams.
“Asante will now serve a substantial term in prison for his money-laundering operation. We will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who participate in the money side of the fraud business.”
He is said to have opened and maintained 19 bank accounts at more than 10 different banks as part of his money-laundering operation.
These bank accounts had deposits that totalled approximately $36.4 million during the 4.5-year period from September 2016 through January 2021, which included fraud proceeds from more than 80 identified victims.
According to the Indictment, public court filings, and statements made in court, Asante was a member of a criminal enterprise based in Ghana that committed a series of frauds against individuals and businesses located across the United States, including in the Southern District of New York.