Ghanaian singer and social media star, Mona Faiz Montrage, popularly known as Hajia4Real, has been extradited from the UK to the US on accusations of scamming over $2 million from lonely Americans.
Hajia4Real is alleged to have been part of a network of fraudsters from Ghana and Nigeria who used fake identities and online platforms to lure older, single Americans into fake romantic relationships and extort money from them, federal prosecutors said on Monday, May 15, 2023.
According to the New York Post, ‘The Badder Than’ singer pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court on Monday.
She is expected to be released in the next few days after posting a $500,000 bond.
She will also have to wear an ankle monitor with GPS tracking as part of her release conditions.
Federal authorities claim that Montrage, who rose to fame through her Instagram page Hajia4Reall with a peak following of about 3.4 million users, received funds from several victims who fell for the scams orchestrated by her network of fraudsters.
“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.”
He added, “Thanks to the efforts of our law enforcement partners, Montrage was arrested abroad and has been brought to the United States to face justice.”
In court papers, one case detailed how Hajia4Real allegedly tricked a victim into sending her a whopping $89,000 through 82 wire transfers under the guise of helping her father’s farm in Ghana.
The papers also allege that Hajia sent the victim a tribal marriage certificate, trying to prove their fake marital status.
This elaborate scheme followed a number of phone conversations during which the fashionista and serial entrepreneur used her real identity.
Prosecutors also allege that Montrage deposited the stolen money into bank accounts held by her in various locations, including one under the name of 4Reall Designs, a bogus clothing company.
The money was later transferred to other individuals involved in the criminal scheme.
Montrage was first reported to have been arrested in the UK on November 10, 2022, and initially sentenced, but her team denied the report.
Hajia4Real was later extradited to the US on Friday to face charges including wire fraud, money laundering, receipt of stolen money, and conspiracy.
She could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.