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Ghanaian Social Media Influencer Hajia4real Extradited from UK to US for $2 Million Romance Scam

Influencer is extradited to US in $2M romance scam targeting older, single Americans

Hajia 4 real -Mona 

A Ghanaian social media influencer, Mona Faiz Montrage, has been extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States, accused of swindling over $2 million from older, single American men and women in a manipulative lonely hearts scam. Federal prosecutors revealed the details on Monday, stating that Montrage, 30, from Accra, Ghana, appeared in Manhattan federal court to face charges related to her alleged involvement in a series of romance schemes targeting older individuals who lived alone.

Montrage, known for her Instagram page Hajia4Reall with a peak of around 3.4 million followers, was part of a group of con artists from West Africa who, between 2013 and 2019, adopted fake identities to deceive people into believing they were in relationships. The fraudsters employed emails, texts, and social media messages as tools to manipulate their victims.

According to court papers, the scammers convinced their victims to transfer money under false pretenses, claiming it was for various reasons such as facilitating the transfer of gold from overseas, resolving fabricated FBI investigations, or aiding fake US Army officers stationed in Afghanistan. In one specific case, Montrage allegedly manipulated a victim into sending her $89,000 through 82 wire transfers, claiming the funds were to support her father's farm in Ghana.

The filing asserts that Montrage further deceived the victim by providing a tribal marriage certificate after a series of phone conversations conducted using her real identity, leading the victim to believe they were married. Prosecutors also claim that Montrage received money from multiple individuals who fell victim to scammers within her network.

In total, Montrage allegedly accumulated $2 million in illicit funds, which were deposited into various bank accounts, including one registered under the name of a fictitious clothing company called 4Reall Designs. The indictment further accuses her of laundering the stolen money to other members of the criminal enterprise. Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams commented, "As alleged, Mona Faiz Montrage was a member of a criminal conspiracy that specifically targeted older Americans through romance scams. These scams can be both financially and emotionally devastating for vulnerable victims."

Williams expressed gratitude for the collaborative efforts of law enforcement partners, which led to Montrage's arrest overseas and her subsequent extradition to the United States to face justice. The social media influencer, whose Instagram account was once among the top 10 most followed in Ghana, was apprehended on November 10, 2022, in the UK for her alleged involvement in the conspiracy and was brought to the US on a later date.

Montrage faces charges of wire fraud, money laeundering, receipt of stolen money, and conspiracy. If convicted on the top charge, she could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. During her court appearance, Montrage pleaded not guilty. Her attorney, Adam Cortez, confirmed that she would be released on $500,000 bond and placed under home detention at her aunt's residence in New Jersey, with GPS tracking through an ankle monitor. Cortez revealed that his client's travel would be restricted to certain parts of New York and New Jersey while awaiting trial. He refrained from further comment until receiving additional information and evidence from the prosecutors.

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