Hajia4Reall was running sex scam while setting standards on social media as a ‘businesswoman’.
The popular Ghanaian socialite who real name is Mona Faiz Montrage was extradited from UK, where she was based, to the US for swindling over $2 million/Ksh274 million from older, single American men in an online sex scam.
The socialite, whose Instagram account is among the top 10 most followed in Ghana, was arrested on November 10, 2022, in the UK for the online scam.
US prosecutors filed a case to have her extradited to America where her victims are. They finally convinced UK court to ship the Ghanaian conwoman on May 12.
The US prosecutors presented Hajia4Reall before the Manhattan federal court on Monday, May 15, for her alleged involvement in a series of romance schemes targeting older people who lived alone.
“As alleged, Mona Faiz Montrage was a member of a criminal conspiracy that specifically targeted older Americans through romance scams,” Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
“These scams can be both financially and emotionally devastating for vulnerable victims,” he added.
Her lawyer told The Post that she pleaded not guilty to the charges and is set to be released in the coming days on $500,000/Ksh68.6 million bond with GPS tracking via an ankle monitor.
Prosecutors have alleged that the Ghanaian socialite, who gained significant recognition through her widely popular Instagram page Hajia4Real with a peak following of approximately 3.4 million users, was involved in a network of fraudsters hailing from Ghana and Nigeria.
These individuals employed deceptive tactics, assuming false identities to create an illusion of romantic relationships with their victims through emails, text messages, and social media communications.
The scammers would then get the victims to transfer money to them under false pretenses; such as to help move gold to the US from overseas, to resolve bogus FBI investigations and payments to help fake US Army officers in Afghanistan, court papers allege.
Hajia4Reall, in one case, allegedly duped a victim into sending her $89,000/Ksh12.2 million through 82 wire transfers on the pretext of helping her father’s farm in Ghana, the court documents claim.
She tricked the person into believing the pair were married by sending them a tribal marriage certificate after a series of phone conversations using her real identity, the filing alleges.
The Ghanaian socialite also received money from several others who were swindled by scammers in her network, prosecutors allege.
Hajia4Reall is charged with wire fraud, money laundering, receipt of stolen money and conspiracy. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the top charge.
Hajia4Reall’s arrest comes months after notorious Nigerian fraudster Hushpuppi was jailed for 11 years in the US for his role in an international fraud syndicate.
Hushpuppi, whose real name is Ramon Abbas, was arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June 2020, and was extradited to the U.S. where most of the victims of his fraudulent activities were based.
The Nigerian conman pleaded guilty to money laundering in 2021 admitting attempting to steal more than $1.1m from someone who wanted to fund a new children’s school in Qatar.
Court documents in California say he played a key role in the scheme, playing “the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website”.
He also admitted to “several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses”, the US justice department said.
He allegedly started his fraudulent lifestyle as a “Yahoo boy” – the Nigerian term for men who commit romance fraud by stealing other people’s identities online and swindling their none-the-wiser lovers out of money.
Hushpuppi was sentenced in November 2022.