Ghanaian celebrity socialite and musician, Mona Faiz Montrage who goes by the stage name ‘Hajia 4Real’ has been returned from the UK to the US after being accused of defrauding more than $2 million.
According to federal prosecutors, Hajia 4real is accused of defrauding elderly, single American men and women in a terrible lonely hearts scam. She pleaded not guilty during the judicial proceedings on Monday, 15 May. She will be released in the coming days after posting a $500,000 bond, it has been announced. She will be obliged to wear an ankle monitor with GPS monitoring as part of the terms of her release.
Federal investigators claim that Montrage was a part of a network of con artists from Ghana and Nigeria. She rose to prominence through her enormously famous Instagram profile, Hajia4Reall, which at its peak had 3.4 million followers. In order to provide the impression that they had romantic relationships with their victims through emails, texts, and social media conversations, these people used misleading tactics and assumed fictitious identities.
“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.”
According to court documents, in one particular instance, Hajia4Real allegedly tricked a victim into wiring her an astounding $89,000 over 82 wire transfers under the guise of providing financial support for her father’s farm in Ghana. The documents further claim that in an effort to confirm the victim’s bogus marital status, Hajia took the scam a step further by mailing them a tribal marriage certificate.
Following a string of phone calls in which the fashionista and serial entrepreneur used her real name, this sophisticated ruse worked and was successful.
A total of $2 million, which Montrage is believed to have acquired fraudulently through the scam by conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and receiving stolen property, was sent into a variety of her bank accounts, one of which she used to hide her identity as the fictitious clothing company 4Reall Designs. The indictment claims that the stolen money was eventually transferred to additional participants in the criminal business by way of laundering.
She is facing a 20-year jail sentence if found guilty.