A Maryland man was accused of targeting seniors who decided to cast a wider web in their search for romance. He allegedly swindled them out of more than $1.1 million in a so-called romance scam.
Krist Koranteng, age 32, of Maryland was charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Maryland and the Ohio Attorney General's office, which helped with the case.
Romantic Approaches, Then Requests for Cash
An 11-count indictment announced last week revealed that Koranteng allegedly preyed on the seniors between September 2012 and February 2014. As these scams tend to go, after he connected with the victims online, Koranteng allegedly called, emailed and texted to build "romantic relationships with the victims."
That led to requests for money to help made-up family members who were supposedly sick, for phony plane trips and to help him with what turned out to be bogus investments.
Ohio authorities got involved after hearing from a victim who had been taken for hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Attorney General's office said.
"The romance scam is a particularly low type of scam,' Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement, "and victims deserve to see perpetrators brought to justice.
Don't Be a Victim
DeWine offered the following tips to help those who meet people online avoid getting scammed:
- Research someone you meet online; don't rely on what that person tells you. Perform Internet searches and consider getting a background check.
- Be cautious of individuals who claim it was destiny or fate that brought you together.
- Talk to friends and family members about online relationships.
- Don't send money to someone you meet online, even if you have developed a relationship.
- Be very skeptical of requests to send money via wire transfer or prepaid money cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers.