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Suspected indicted in scheme to defraud elderly individuals of $1.1 million

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Aug 25, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced that work by his Economic Crimes Unit, a division of the Consumer Protection Section, helped lead to the indictment of a Maryland man on charges related to a scheme to defraud elderly individuals of more than $1.1 million.

United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein announced on Thursday that a federal grand jury had indicted Krist Koranteng, 32, on conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering charges in connection with a romance scheme to defraud elderly individuals.

One of the victims was an Ohio consumer who reported losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Unit began investigating the Ohio consumer’s case and notified federal authorities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland, is prosecuting the case, and more information is available on that office’s website.

“We created the Economic Crimes Unit to assist in holding con artists criminally accountable,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We are proud to assist in cases like these. The romance scam is a particularly low type of scam, and victims deserve to see perpetrators brought to justice.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine created the Consumer Protection Section’s Economic Crimes Unit in 2011 to identify criminal conduct in consumer fraud cases and assist prosecuting attorneys in holding scammers criminally accountable. To date, 82 people have been convicted. 

Romance scams or “sweetheart scams” are costly ploys where con artists develop relationships with their victims, usually online, and convince them to send money. In a typical sweetheart scam, the con artist meets the victim online through a dating website or social networking site, communicating through email, instant message, or phone. The scammer eventually asks the victim to send money to help cover some type of cost, such as travel expenses or business ventures.

Since 2013, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received about 75 sweetheart scam complaints. The average reported loss is more than $23,000.

DeWine offers consumers the following tips to protect themselves:

• 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.

Consumers who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

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