African married an American to become a citizen, joined the Army, and stole over $350k from elderly

Former Spc. Sanda G. Frimpong

A former soldier has been sentenced for laundering the illicit proceeds of an elaborate series of scams he conducted while serving in the Army at Fort Liberty (named Fort Bragg at the time).

Former Spc. Sanda G. Frimpong, 33, pled guilty to three counts of money laundering on September 14, 2023.

On April 11, he was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison and ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution to victims of his romance scams.

Frimpong, a native of West Africa, first entered the U.S. on a fiance visa and got married in the U.S.

He divorced in 2018 and became a naturalized citizen that same year.

From December 2019 to February 2022, while stationed at Fort Liberty, Frimpong used elaborate scams to impersonate romantic love interests, diplomats, customs personnel, military personnel, and other fictitious personas to induce the victims into providing money or property to him and his conspirators.

“Romance scammers exploit our most vulnerable citizens, even our seniors and military veterans, sometimes leaving them financially and emotionally devastated,” said Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  “The fact that an Army servicemember was involved in romance scams while serving as a soldier is appalling.  We are partnering with the Department of Defense to drum out fraudsters and money launderers like Frimpong from our military ranks and put them in prison where they belong.”

According to the indictment, one victim of their romance scam was taken for $150,000.

According to the Department of Justice, Frimpong laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds from the scams through his various bank accounts across state lines and through his contacts in Ghana.

In addition to the romance scams, Frimpong and others used the stolen identities of people living and dead to fraudulently apply for unemployment assistance in several states including North Carolina, California, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Texas.

They were able to obtain more than $100,000 in unemployment benefits through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, commonly known as the CARES Act.

“Integrity is a core tenet of the armed forces and when servicemembers choose to compromise their integrity for greed, it tarnishes the reputation of all others serving in uniform,” stated Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dillard, Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Mid-Atlantic Field Office. “DCIS and its law enforcement partners will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold those accountable who cheat government programs and use online scams to prey on the most vulnerable.”

After serving his prison sentence, Frimpong must serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution to victims.

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