Mona 4Reall, also known as Hajia 4Reall, is a socialite who was deported from the United Kingdom to the United States due to her suspected involvement in a $2 million romance scam known as “sakawa” that preyed on elderly, unmarried Americans.
Federal prosecutors state that the 30-year-old model appeared in Manhattan federal court on Monday, May 15 for her alleged participation in a number of romance scams that were intended to target elderly individuals who were living alone.
The woman, whose birth name was Mona Faiz Montrage, entered a not-guilty plea.
According to her attorney and the prosecutor’s office, Hajia4Reall will soon be released on home detention to her aunt’s home in New Jersey on a $500,000 bond with GPS tracking via an ankle monitor.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, announced the unsealing of a six-count indictment against Hajia4Real for her alleged involvement in a number of romance scams and for allegedly laundering the money from those scams.
Mona 4Reall is a well-known person who became well-known as an influencer thanks to her Instagram account, which she used under the handle “Hajia4Reall,” and which at one point was in the top 10 Instagram profiles in Ghana in terms of most followers with almost 3.4 million.
On November 10, 2022, she was detained in the UK, and on May 12, 2023, she was extradited from the country.
She appeared before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty, who is now assigned to hear the case.
According to FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll, “We allege today that Ms. Montrage engaged in a number of romantic scams, frequently preying on elderly victims, resulting in the control of more than $2 million in false funds.
“Romance scams – especially those that target older individuals – are of major concern. The FBI will be tireless in our efforts to hold fraudsters accountable in the criminal justice system.”
According to the court, the Influencer was part of a criminal enterprise with a basis in Ghana that carried out a number of frauds against people and companies in the United States, including romance scams, from at least in or about 2013 until in or around 2019.
The court said, “Many of the Enterprise’s romance scam victims were vulnerable, older men and women who lived alone. The Enterprise frequently conducted the romance scams by sending the victims emails, text messages, and social media messages that deceived the victims into believing that they were in romantic relationships with a person who had, in fact, a fake identity assumed by members of the Enterprise.
“Once members of the Enterprise had successfully convinced victims that they were in a romantic relationship and had gained their trust, they convinced the victims, under false pretences, to transfer money to bank accounts the victims believed were controlled by their romantic interests, when, in fact, the bank accounts were controlled by members of the Enterprise.”
The prosecution said, “Montrage received money from several victims of romance frauds whom members of the Enterprise tricked into sending money. Among the false pretences used to induce victims to send money to Montrage were (i) payments to transport gold to the United States from overseas; (ii) payments to resolve a fake FBI unemployment investigation; and (iii) payments to assist a fake United States army officer in receiving funds from Afghanistan.
The court said in one incident with her victims she used her real name and spoke to the victim several times by phone.
“Montrage later sent the victim a tribal marriage certificate purporting to show that Montrage and the victim had been married in Ghana.
“The victim sent Montrage approximately 82 wire transfers totalling approximately $89,000 to purportedly help with costs associated with Montrage’s father’s farm in Ghana.”
“In total, Montrage controlled bank accounts that received over $2 million in fraudulent funds from the Enterprise” the court stated.