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Influencer Mona Montrage pleads guilty to conspiracy charge in multimillion-dollar catfishing scam

A composite shot of two photos of social media influencer Mona Montrage
A prominent Ghanaian social media influencer from The Bronx has 'fessed up to swindling over $2 million from older, single American men and women in a depraved lonely hearts scam, federal authorities said.

A prominent social media influencer from The Bronx has pleaded guilty to her role in laundering the proceeds of a long running multimillion dollar catfishing scam, authorities said.

Mona Faiz Montrage, who boasted 3.4 million Instagram followers before she removed her profile from the platform, was living in the Boogie Down from 2013 to 2019 while assisting a West Africa-based group of con artists who relied on emails, texts and social media messages to reel in their romantic rubes, prosecutors said.

Many of those taken in were vulnerable, older men and women who lived alone, authorities said. The con artists used fake identities to convince the lonely hearts across America to send them cash.

Mona Faiz Montrage — who had 3.4 million Instagram followers of her<br>page Hajia4Reall – pled guilty to conspiracy to receive stolen money, the feds said Instagram / @hajia4reall
Mona Faiz Montrage — who had 3.4 million Instagram followers of her
page Hajia4Reall – pled guilty to conspiracy to receive stolen money, the feds said Instagram / @hajia4reall

Montrage pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court Feb. 21 to conspiracy to receive stolen money, federal authorities said.

“In total, Montrage controlled bank accounts that received over $2 million in fraudulent funds from the enterprise, the feds said.

Montrage and other scammers convinced their lovelorn marks to help move gold to the US from overseas; to help resolve purported FBI investigations; and send cash to help US Army officers in Afghanistan, according to court papers.

The social media influencer — whose Instagram account was among the top 10 <br>most followed in Ghana – was arrested on Nov. 10, 2022, in the UK and brought <br>to the US in May. Instagram / @hajia4reall
The social media influencer — whose Instagram account was among the top 10
most followed in Ghana – was arrested on Nov. 10, 2022, in the UK and brought
to the US in May. Instagram / @hajia4reall

Her ill-gotten gains were deposited in Montrage’s Bronx bank accounts before she wired much of the money to her native Ghana, authorities said.

She allegedly charmed one pigeon into sending her $89,000 through 82 wire transfers by claiming her father’s farm in Ghana needed help, the court documents said.

She now faces up to five years in a federal prison, court documents show, Instagram / @hajia4reall
She now faces up to five years in a federal prison, court documents show, Instagram / @hajia4reall
The Ghanaian social media influencer was extradited to the US in May in <br>connection with the $2 million catphishing scheme. Instagram / @hajia4reall
The Ghanaian social media influencer was extradited to the US in May in
connection with the $2 million catphishing scheme. Instagram / @hajia4reall

She tricked that person into believing the pair were married by sending them a tribal marriage certificate after a series of phone conversations using her real identity, authorities alleged.

Montrage now faces up to five years in prison at her May 21 sentencing. She also must make $2.1 million restitution, according to the plea deal.

Montrage is no longer living large following her arrest and guilty plea in federal <br>court. Instagram / @hajia4reall
Montrage is no longer living large following her arrest and guilty plea in federal
court. Instagram / @hajia4reall

The social media influencer — whose Instagram account was among the top 10 most followed in Ghana –was arrested on Nov. 10, 2022, in the UK for conspiracy, and brought to the US in May.

On her page, she shared posts about her music, travels to London and luxury goods.

“Romance scams such as Montrage’s harmed her vulnerable, elderly victims not only in the cruel betrayal of trust in the realization that their online romantic connection was fiction, but by also callously stealing their money,” said Manhattan US attorney Damian Williams.

The influencer, posing here outside a Louis Vuitton, must now make $2.1 million<br>restitution, the feds said. Instagram / @hajia4reall
The influencer, posing here outside a Louis Vuitton, must now make $2.1 million
restitution, the feds said. Instagram / @hajia4reall

Montrage is currently out on $500,000 bail and staying with a relative in Union, NJ, according to court papers. She must wear a GPS tracker and is allowed limited travel in parts of New York and New Jersey, according to the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office.