Ghanaian socialite Mona Faiz Montrage popularly known as Hajia4Reall has been extradited from the United Kingdom to the US for allegedly swindling over $2 million from older, single American men and women in a twisted lonely hearts scam.
Recall that the social media influencer whose Instagram account is among the top 10 most followed in Ghana, was arrested on November 10, 2022, in the UK for the alleged conspiracy and brought to the US on Friday, May 12.
US prosecutors said the popular socialite and singer appeared in 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.
” 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 bond with GPS tracking via an ankle monitor.
Prosecutors have alleged that Montrage, 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. Montrage, in one case, allegedly duped a victim into sending her $89,000 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.
Montrage also received money from several others who were swindled by scammers in her network, prosecutors allege. Montrage 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. Montrage’s lawyer Adam Cortez said;
“At this time all we know is that there are six alleged victims and only two dealt with a woman and only one of them claims that he dealt with Ms.
Montrage.” Cortez told The Post that he can’t comment further until he receives more information and evidence from prosecutors.