After being accused in a lucrative romance fraud targeting elderly Americans, Mona Faiz Montrage a renowned Ghanaian slay queen has been deported to the United States from the United Kingdom.
Prosecutors accused Mona Faiz Montrage, 30, with conspiracy to conduct wire fraud, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering, all of which carry potential sentences of 20 years in prison, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
According to prosecutors, Montrage is also charged with receiving stolen money, which has a possible sentence of ten years in jail, and conspiracy to accept stolen money, which brings a maximum term of five years in prison.
Montrage, who is from Accra, Ghana, has 4.2 million Instagram followers. Her account, which goes by the name “Hajia4Reall,” was once among the top ten most followed in Ghana.
Prosecutors said Montrage was a member of a criminal operation in West Africa that perpetrated fraud, including romance scams, against persons and businesses in the United States from roughly 2013 to 2019. The victims of the scheme’s romantic swindle were often “vulnerable, older men and women who lived alone,” according to authorities.
According to authorities, the fraudsters would send their victims emails, SMS, and social media communications that led them to believe they were in romantic relationships.
“Once members of the Enterprise had successfully convinced victims that they were in a romantic relationship and had gained their trust, they convinced the victims, under false pretenses, to transfer money to bank accounts the victims believed were controlled by their romantic interests, when, in fact, the bank accounts were controlled by members of the Enterprise,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say that Montrage controlled bank accounts that received over $2 million in fraudulent funds.
Montrage allegedly received money from several victims who were tricked into sending funds by being told the payments were to transfer gold to the United States from overseas, resolve a fake FBI unemployment investigation, or even help a fictitious American army officer receive funds from Afghanistan, according to prosecutors.
With one of her victims, Montrage used her real name and spoke with him on the phone several times, prosecutors said. She sent the victim a fake marriage certificate that claimed the pair had wed in Ghana. The victim sent Montrage 82 wire transfers that totaled $89,000, supposedly to help Montrage’s father’s farm in Ghana, prosecutors said.
“Romance scams – especially those that target older individuals – are of major concern. The FBI will be tireless in our efforts to hold fraudsters accountable in the criminal justice system,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement.