HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — A federal jury convicted a man for his involvement in a Huntington-based scam that defrauded victims in various states through the use of fake online profiles.
Trial evidence showed that Abdul Inusah, 31, of Ghana, was part of a scheme that targeted victims using fake personas via email, text messaging, online dating and social media.
From around Jan. 2018 through about Dec. 2019, the scheme led victims to believe they were in a romantic relationship, friendship or business deal with the fake profile. The victims were persuaded to send money for various fraudulent reasons for the benefit of Inusah and his codefendants.
One fake persona, “Miarma,” influenced an Alabama resident into wiring $106,000. The amount was part of $48,000 to pay overdue taxes on a nonexistent gold inheritance in Ghana, and $21,000 was sent to a company set up by Inusah. Another false profile, “Grace,” convinced a Washington resident to send money so “Grace” could maintain her African cocoa plantation and move to the U.S. to marry the victim.
Other victims included residents in Ohio and Florida.
The jury found Inusah guilty of receipt of stolen money, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of wire fraud. The wire fraud counts include a couple of $2,000 Zelle wire transfers to Inusah from the money acquired using the “Miarama” fake persona in Jan. 2019.
Inusah is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 21, 2022, and faces a maximum of 50 years in prison.
Agencies that investigated this case included the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General, the West Virginia State Police, and the South Charleston Police Department.
The public can always report possible online scams at the webpage for the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.