A Bronx man faces 25 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday for allegedly laundering $1.5 million and scamming senior citizens.
Hassan Lari, 48, is accused of conspiring to commit money laundering and operating an unlawful money transmitting business.
“Alhassan Lari and his co-defendants operated an online criminal enterprise whose profile included romance schemes targeting the elderly,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. “Navigating the anonymous world of the internet, and especially online dating, is oftentimes complicated enough without the added peril of fraudsters lurking to scam would-be daters. This case exemplifies the need to always remain alert and cautious on the internet – especially when being asked for money by a stranger, don’t hesitate to swipe left.”
According to the investigation, from 2014 through February 2020, Lari was a member of a criminal enterprise (the “Enterprise”) based in the Republic of Ghana (“Ghana”) that committed a series of business email compromises and romance scams against individuals and businesses located across the United States, including in the Southern District of New York.
Lari, while in the Bronx, received or directed the receipt of at least approximately $1.5 million in fraud proceeds of the Enterprise in cash from co-conspirators or directly from victims through bank accounts he controlled.
Several of these bank accounts were opened using a shell shipping company, in order to avoid detection and hide the fraudulent nature of the transactions.
Once Lari received the fraud proceeds in bank accounts under his control, he withdrew, transported and laundered the money to other members of the Enterprise, including those located in Ghana.
The defendant also operated an unlicensed money transmitting business in the Bronx, used by co-conspirators of the Enterprise to facilitate and transfer fraud proceeds from the United States to co-conspirators in Ghana.
Lari plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison and one count of operation of an unlawful money transmitting business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He will be sentenced June 16.
Other defendants in this case who have been sentenced include Muftau Adamu, a/k/a “Muftau Adams,” a/k/a “Muftau Iddrissu,” 32, of the Bronx, who was sentenced to 51 months in prison on June 7, 2019; Prince Nana Aggrey, 45, of the Bronx, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on May 10, 2019 and Assana Traore, 41, of the Bronx, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Oct. 8, 2019.
Adamu and Aggrey each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and Traore pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive stolen money.