Influencer Allegedly Bilked $2M From Americans in ‘Romance Scam’


Social media can be deceiving.

Ghanaian influencer Mona Faiz Montrage, 30, who according to the FBI once had 3.6 million followers on Instagram under the profile “Hajia4Reall,” presented an opulent lifestyle of travel, shopping and a life of music. The account is still active today (with 4.2 million followers); If it’s under your control, the last post is from 7 days ago.

But during her adventures abroad and shopping sprees, the influencer was allegedly involved in a “romance scheme” that stole nearly $2 million from older Americans.

According to the US Attorney’s OfficeMontrage was a member of a West Africa-based criminal organization and involved in a series of romance schemes targeting older, “vulnerable” Americans from at least 2013 to 2019. Montrage was arrested in the UK in November 2022 and extradited to New York on Friday.

Montrage was allegedly one of many at the organization who communicated with elderly victims via text messages, emails and social media to feign a romantic relationship. Then, after the organization “gained their trust,” its members persuaded victims to transfer funds to accounts controlled by the criminal enterprise.

“Love scams — particularly those targeting older individuals — are a matter of grave concern,” Michael J. Driscoll, deputy chief of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said in a statement. “The FBI will work tirelessly to bring fraudsters to justice in the criminal justice system.”

Related: A retired teacher and her daughter were scammed out of $200,000 via email: ‘I’m 69 and now I’m broke and homeless’

One of Montrage’s victims was fooled into believing they had married in Ghana after a tribal marriage certificate was sent to him. Over the course of their alleged relationship, the victim sent Montrage 82 wire transfers totaling nearly $89,000.

Montrage faces six separate charges, including wire fraud and money laundering. Some of their charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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