Fairfield man sentenced in online romance scam targeting older adults

A 25-year-old Fairfield man was sentenced to 6½ years in federal prison on Wednesday.

De-love Kofi Amuzu was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati for his role as a money launderer in a romance fraud conspiracy that targeted older adults looking for companionship online.

Amuzu, a citizen of Ghana, was arrested in January 2022 in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. A federal grand jury indicted Amuzu in 2022, and he pleaded guilty Feb. 2 to conspiring to launder money.

According to court documents, members of the conspiracy created fake online dating profiles using stolen photographs and false information, then communicated with the victims via chats, texts and phone calls while pretending to be the imaginary person pictured in the profile.

They commonly claimed to live abroad to explain why they could not meet in person.

In addition to federal investigative units, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser and Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones and their officers aided the investigation.

Authorities said conspirators instructed the victims to transfer money, often tens of thousands of dollars at a time, to accounts controlled by Amuzu. They also instructed victims to mail Amuzu cash or other items of value, like Rolex watches and iPhones. After receiving the money, Amuzu then laundered it to accounts in Ghana.

Investigators tracked more than $1.1 million in fraud proceeds flowing through Amuzu’s accounts.

Amuzu was ordered to pay $835,487.65 in restitution.

“Several victims lost so much money to the scheme that they were forced to declare bankruptcy,” said Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

Anyone who suspects they or a loved one were a victim of such a fraud should report it by calling the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11, or go to the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative website at www.Justice.gov/elderjustice.

Amuzu’s case was announced in October 2022 as part of the Justice Department’s National Elder Justice Sweep, an initiative to increase awareness of the various fraudulent schemes targeting the elderly.

According to the initial charges, Amuzu used multiple bank accounts to further the scheme, including a bank account opened in the name of a shell company, Obdomdel Management Agency LLC, which was based on Camelot Drive in Fairfield, according to the Ohio Secretary of State.

Nearly $268,000 was transferred from various bank accounts to a bank account in Ghana, according to the federal indictment.

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