Authorities say four people have been charged with conspiring to launder money taken from victims across the United States, many of whom were elderly, as a part of a series of romance scams.

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47-year-old William Kwabena of Somerset, NJ; 37-year-old Nana Yaw Marfo of Virginia; and 45-year-old Shannon Braxton and 42-year-old Chevon Braxton, both from Maryland, have all been charged with one count of money laundering conspiracy.

U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger's office says,

The defendants used bank accounts and accounts at credit unions to launder the proceeds of money obtained by victims of romance scams. Several victims throughout the United States fell victim to romance scams after meeting individuals online who they thought were interested in a romantic relationship. The victims, many of whom were elderly, sent thousands of dollars to accounts controlled by Goeh, Marfo, the Braxtons, and others, believing the money was being sent for the benefit of their online romantic interest. Goeh and Marfo opened up business bank accounts in the names of various entities to conceal the romance scam fraud proceeds.

Sellinger says Goeh received at least $530,000, Marfo received at least $4.7 million, Shannon Braxton received at least $500,000, and Chevon Braxton received at least $1.3 million.

The Braxtons withdrew a large portion of the fraud proceeds as cash, while Goeh and Marfo wired thousands of dollars to accounts in China, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Singapore, and Mauritius.

The money laundering conspiracy charge could land each person behind bars for up to 20 years with a $500,000 fine.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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