A Ghanaian social media influencer 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, federal prosecutors said Monday.
Mona Faiz Montrage, 30, of Accra, Ghana, appeared in Manhattan federal court Monday for her alleged involvement in a series of romance schemes targeting older people who lived alone, prosecutors said.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges and is set to be released on home detention to her aunt’s New Jersey residence in the coming days on $500,000 bond with GPS tracking via an ankle monitor, her lawyer and the prosecutor’s office confirmed to The Post.
Montrage — who had around 3.4 million Instagram followers of her page Hajia4Reall at one point — from at least 2013 through 2019 was allegedly involved with a group of con artists from West Africa who assumed fake identities to trick people into thinking they were in relationships with them using emails, texts and social media messages, the feds said.
In total, Montrage netted $2 million in funds the group allegedly ripped off from victims to bank accounts she had in the Bronx and elsewhere, including one opened in the name of 4Reall Designs, a supposed clothing company.
She then allegedly laundered the money to other members of the enterprise, the indictment charges.
Montrage allegedly tricked one person into thinking they were married and then got him to send her $89,000, prosecutors claim.
“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.”
“Thanks to the efforts of our law enforcement partners, Montrage was arrested abroad and has been brought to the United States to face justice,” the statement continued.
The social media influencer — whose Instagram account was 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.
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 told The Post: “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 said he couldn’t comment further until he receives more information and evidence from prosecutors.
The lawyer said that his client can only travel in certain parts of New York and New Jersey pending her case.