Hajia4Real pleads guilty to receiving fraud proceeds from romance scams

By Jeremiah Nutsugah Social media sensation Mona Faiz Montrage, better known as Hajia4Real, has admitted to her involvement in laundering funds derived from a series of romance scams. According to the United States Attorney’s Office website, the socialite pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to receive stolen money. Today, she entered a guilty plea […]

Feb 26, 2024 - 15:10
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Hajia4Real pleads guilty to receiving fraud proceeds from romance scams

By Jeremiah Nutsugah

Social media sensation Mona Faiz Montrage, better known as Hajia4Real, has admitted to her involvement in laundering funds derived from a series of romance scams.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office website, the socialite pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to receive stolen money.

Today, she entered a guilty plea for the charge of conspiracy to receive stolen money in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave.

The 31-year-old socialite from Ghana confessed to a single count of conspiring to receive stolen money, an offense that could lead to a maximum prison sentence of five years.

In addition, Montrage has consented to forfeit and provide restitution of the same amount, totaling $2,164,758.41. Hajia4Real changed her legal representation in November 2023.

This decision follows her separation from Adam Cortez, who had been her attorney since the initiation of her prosecution.

Hajia4Real submitted the request for a change in attorney to the US court on November 8, 2023, and it was granted on November 9, 2023.

She subsequently retained the services of Ms. Eleanor Fast from ‘The Fast Law Firm PC’ to handle her case going forward. The specific reasons for her decision to switch lawyers were not disclosed.

Background

Hajia4Reall was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom over her alleged involvement in a $2 million romance scam locally called ‘sakawa’ targeting older, single Americans in May 2023.

Prosecutors said she was charged with conspiracy to commit and committing wire fraud and money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

She was also charged with receipt of stolen money, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, and conspiracy to receive stolen money, with a maximum of five years.

According to the prosecution, from at least in/or about 2013 through in/or about 2019, the influencer was a member of a Criminal Enterprise based in Ghana that committed a series of frauds against individuals and businesses in the United States.

The Enterprise, they indicated, frequently conducted the romance scams by sending the victims emails, text messages, and social media messages that deceived the victims into believing that they were in romantic relationships with a person who was, in fact, a fake identity assumed by members of the Enterprise. 

Once members of the Enterprise had successfully convinced victims that they were in a romantic relationship and had gained their trust, they convinced the victims, under false pretences, to transfer money to bank accounts the victims believed were controlled by their romantic interests, when, in fact, the bank accounts were controlled by members of the Enterprise.

The prosecution noted that Hajia4Reall received money from several victims of romance fraud whom members of the Enterprise tricked into sending money. Among the false pretences used to induce victims to send money to Hajia4Reall were payments to transport gold to the U.S. from overseas, payments to resolve a fake FBI investigation, and payments to assist a fake U.S. Army officer in receiving funds from Afghanistan.

In total, Hajia4Reall controlled bank accounts that received over $2 million in fraudulent funds from the Enterprise. But the socialite initially pleaded not guilty to all charges in May 2023 and was later released on bail.

On June 26, 2023, she reiterated her innocence in a now-deleted post on Instagram. She expressed appreciation to her fans for “love and prayers shown during these difficult times”.

She added that it is only a matter of time before she is vindicated.
“There is time for everything, and the world will come to know the truth, and my story will be heard,” she wrote in the caption.

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