Grand jury indicts Butler County man for romance-fraud conspiracy, COVID fraud

A dual Ghanaian and American citizen residing in Fairfield, Ohio, was indicted this week for crimes related to a romance-fraud conspiracy and making false statements on a COVID‑relief application.

Benjamin Adu Acheampong, 37, is charged in a seven-count indictment.

From January 2019 through July 2021, Acheampong conspired with others to create false online profiles, which the conspirators used to express romantic interest in victims, according to the indictment. Once the victim believed he or she was in a romantic relationship with the person pictured in the online profile, the coconspirators, using false pretenses, convinced victims to send money by mail or by wire transfer.

The conspirators commonly falsely represented the person pictured in the online profile was expecting a large inheritance of gold and needing financial assistance to bring it to the United States, or that he or she needed money for a plane ticket or medical expenses, prosecutors said.

Acheampong allegedly laundered part of the $1 million in scam proceeds through multiple bank accounts, including accounts opened in the name of ABA Automotive & Export LLC, an Ohio LLC he created.

It is alleged the money was laundered by making wire transfers, including to accounts in Africa, and by falsely representing the transfers were for, among other things, paying workers and family expenses.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that Acheampong made false statements to the Small Business Administration in a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan application, which resulted in the SBA awarding him more than $20,000 in COVID relief to which he was not entitled.

Federal prosecutors have charged Acheampong with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, two counts of international money laundering, and two counts of concealment money laundering. Each of the charges is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Acheampong is also charged with one count of making false statements to an agent of the United States, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

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