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A New York man with Ghanaian connections who engineered a trade-based money laundering (TBML) scheme to transfer illicit gains from online scams has been sentenced to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay $532,738 in restitution to 11 victims.

Edward Boakye pled guilty to money laundering charges stemming from multiple scams. In some cases, victims were led to believe they were financially supporting an online romantic partner. In other instances, they were deceived into thinking they were sending money to transport gold bars to the US, in which they believed they had a stake.

Modus operandi

When Boakye and his co-conspirator received the fraudulently obtained money, they kept a fee for themselves and proceeded to transfer the funds via TBML or other means to Ghana.  

The criminally derived funds generated in the US were used to purchase motor vehicles that were then shipped to the headquarters of a criminal organisation in Ghana.

Multiple victims

The FBI traced more than $710,000 sent by 40 victims through Boakye and his co-conspirator’s accounts. 

One Arizona victim lost nearly $5 million to the scams, sending Boakye and his co-conspirator almost $500,000 and the remaining money to multiple other individuals.

US-Ghana TBML connections

In May 2022, another US resident with Ghanaian connections, Fred Asante, was sentenced to nine years in jail for his role as the top US-based money launderer for a criminal enterprise based in Ghana that stole tens of millions of dollars from victims across the US.

The victims were duped in scams including business email compromises, romance scams targeting elderly victims, and fraud schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asante also employed TBML schemes. He primarily laundered the fraud proceeds through his businesses by purchasing automobiles, food products, and other goods from US-based suppliers and shipping those products to Ghana and elsewhere.