Lexington federal judge sentences two people in romance fraud that led to money laundering
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/U.S. DOJ) – Two defendants were sentenced in federal court Friday, for their roles in an international money laundering conspiracy; a third was convicted last Friday, by a federal jury in Lexington, for his role in the scheme.
Last week, after an hour of deliberations, following a three-day trial, a federal jury convicted 34-year-old Baaki Abdul Majeed of wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and five counts of transactional money laundering.
According to testimony at trial, Majeed conspired with Kahad Wuupini, 35, and Thomas Inkoom, 42, in a money laundering conspiracy.
Evidence revealed that the conspirators agreed to aid in and launder $757,000 in funds, which were defrauded from a victim of an online romance fraud scheme.
After receiving cashier’s checks, personal checks, and cash from the victim, Majeed and his co-conspirators laundered the money from Washington and New Jersey, back to Ghana, by purchasing cars that were shipped to Ghana, obtaining cashier’s checks, and wiring funds to each other or other individuals in the United States and Ghana.
The purpose of these transactions was to conceal and disguise the proceeds of their online romance fraud.
Majeed, Wuupini, and Inkoom were indicted in August 2019.
Wuupini and Inkoom pleaded guilty to the money laundering conspiracy in March 2020 and were sentenced Friday, by Chief U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves.
Wuupini was sentenced to 79 months in prison and Inkoom was sentenced to 19 months.
Under federal law, both must serve 85 percent of their prison sentences and will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for 3 years, following their release.
Wuupini was ordered to pay $757,000 and Inkoom was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution.
“The scheme, using fraud and deceit, preyed upon the victim’s hopes and took advantage of her kindness, ultimately stealing over $750,000 of her money,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
“Unfortunately, internet-based romance scams are becoming more and more prevalent. It is important for people to be cautious about sending money to someone they have only met online,” he said. “If something seems too good to be true, it often is. I commend the hard work of FBI personnel and members of my Office, to hold the defendants accountable for their crimes, and to bring a measure of justice to the victim.”
“Romance scammers use promises of love and romance to entice victims online often persuading them to send money, personal and financial information, and items of value to the perpetrator,” said James Robert Brown, Jr., Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Louisville Field Office. “The defendants in this case not only deceived a vulnerable individual, but then proceeded to engage in multiple money laundering schemes in order to conceal their original scam. The FBI will not stand for fraudsters who seek to gain financially by preying upon the ‘heartstrings’ of Americans.”
United States Attorney Duncan and Special Agent in Charge Brown, jointly announced the conviction.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. The United States was represented in the case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Smith.
Majeed will appear for sentencing on January 29, 2021.
He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
However, the Court must consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the applicable federal sentencing statutes before imposing a sentence.