Influencer Pretended to Marry Victim as Part of Alleged $2 Million Romance Scam Targeting Elderly

The influencer, known on social media as hajia4reall, has more than four million followers on Instagram.

An Instagram influencer with more than four million followers has been charged in connection with an alleged romance scam operation that authorities say “specifically targeted older Americans.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York announced Monday that 30-year-old Mona Faiz Montrage, known on Instagram under the username hajia4reall, had now been extradited to the U.S. following her initial arrest in the U.K. last year. Montrage, of Ghana, has been charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering.

Per the Justice Department, each count comes with a maximum possible sentence of 20 years behind bars. In addition to the aforementioned allegations, Montrage has also been charge with a single count of receipt of stolen money and a single count of conspiracy to receive stolen money; these charges could lead to up to 10 years and five years behind bars, respectively.

The operation is alleged to have spanned from 2013 through 2019, with Montrage accused of having been “a member of a criminal enterprise” prosecutors say was based in West Africa. Victims of the scams, which are alleged to have resulted in Montrage making more than $2 million, were often elderly men and women who lived alone. Money was obtained under various false pretenses, including but not limited to claiming that cash was needed to help out with a nonexistent U.S. Army officer.

At one point in the operation, the DOJ said, Montrage allegedly pretended to marry a victim who ultimately sent her an estimated $89,000 across a series of wire transfers.

Montrage had been active on social media as recently as this month. She has not publicly commented on the allegations against her.

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