Mona Faiz Montrage, a renowned Ghanaian musician and influencer known as Hajia4Reall, has pleaded not guilty to charges related to an alleged $2 million romance scam.
She was extradited from the UK to the US and appeared before a judge, but remains in custody until all bail conditions are satisfied.
Prosecutors have charged Montrage with conspiracy to commit and committing wire fraud, as well as money laundering, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Additionally, she faces charges of receipt of stolen money with a maximum sentence of 10 years, and conspiracy to receive stolen money with a maximum of five years.
Montrage, along with her alleged criminal group, is accused of engaging in fraudulent activities, specifically targeting older American individuals, both men and women, as well as businesses, through romance scams spanning from 2013 to 2019.
Prosecutors claim that they employed various means of communication, such as emails, text messages, and social media, to deceive victims into believing they were involved in romantic relationships, ultimately exploiting them for monetary gains.
One particular incident alleges that Montrage extorted approximately $89,000 through 82 wire transfers after presenting the victim with a counterfeit traditional marriage certificate. Prosecutors have also accused her of defrauding individuals under false pretenses.
With over four million followers on Instagram, Montrage holds significant influence in Ghana, and news of her alleged involvement in these activities has elicited shock and disappointment within the country. However, US prosecutors stress that these charges are merely accusations, and Montrage is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Montrage is scheduled to appear in court again on June 28th.