Kofi Osei of Randolph, Massachusetts has been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison and ordered to pay $4.1 million in restitution for his role in an elaborate online dating scam.

The sentence was issued by a U.S. District Court Judge in Boston after Osei pled guilty to seven counts of making false statements to a bank, six counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.

According to a press release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office,

Between 2016 and 2020, Osei opened at least 77 bank accounts using fake passports in others’ names and then received and quickly withdrew proceeds obtained from fraud victims. The victims, often elderly, were the targets of romance scams. Osei’s co-conspirators created and used fictious online dating profiles to capitalize on the victims’ desire for companionship, gain their trust and direct victims to transfer money based on lies. Osei coordinated with his co-conspirators to receive the fraud proceeds into the bank accounts he opened. Osei then withdrew the fraud proceeds in cash or with a cashier’s check, sending a portion back to his co-conspirators. In total, the money-laundering scheme received more than $8 million in fraud proceeds, $4 million of which went directly into accounts that Osei opened and controlled. 

Masslive reported that one of Osei’s victims was a Florida woman that he met on eHarmony in 2016. Using a fictitious name, Osei convinced the woman that he worked on an oil rig and, after a year of flirtatious texts and emails, the woman sent two cash wires to him totaling $161,000.

In another scam, Osei contacted a California woman in 2017 using the dating site Plenty of Fish. Osei again used a phony name–William Woodcox–and told the woman he was working in France. Again, after about a year of online courting, Osei began to ask the woman for large sums of cash which the woman naively wired to him. Between January and February 2018, she sent a total of $65,000 to the fictitious “Mr. Woodcox.”