A Maryland man and his group reportedly preyed on at least 200 lonely elderly victims, targeting them through social media and dating websites, to make some $6.2 million in a convoluted “romance scheme” that extorted money from the vulnerable victims.

David Annor, 28, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, has pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Aug. 10, to conspiracy to commit money laundering, in connection with a "romance scheme" in which old, lonely, and isolated victims were targetted and asked to send money to the suspects, based on romantic assertions and other misrepresentations.

Annor and his co-conspirators then reportedly laundered the payments that they received from these helpless victims, NBC4 Washington reported.

Between May 2017 and October 2020, Annor had a hand in a romance scam in which his brother, Lesley Annor, 23, and a co-conspirator reportedly targeted hundreds of elderly and lonely victims online, typically through social media, dating websites, e-mail, and online applications.

They gained the victims' trust after indulging in personal and romantic conversations with them and later allegedly instructed them to send money to bank accounts and physical addresses linked to Lesley and other conspiracy members. The brothers reportedly took a 10 percent share of the victim’s money and sent the rest of the money to accomplices who were based in Ghana.

The victims' age group reportedly ranged between 38 and 83. Most of the victims lived in the U.S. and were mostly elderly or isolated, WTOP reported.

One of the victims, a Texas woman, reportedly told FBI agents that she sent approximately $100,000 to a man who she met through Facebook after she had fallen for his wiles. The man allegedly claimed to be a U.S. soldier who was preparing to return home from Afghanistan. The woman sent the money believing that she was paying for surgery after the man met a car accident.

Another victim, a Virginia matriarch, told FBI agents that she sent $177,000 to a man she met through Facebook who claimed to be an underwater welder from Canada. The woman sent him the money after the Facebook user asked her for cash to buy equipment, securing her trust as they engaged in romantic conversations.

Lesley and his brother Annor have been jailed since they were arrested in November 2020 on money laundering charges. Annor has pleaded guilty and his sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 29 before U.S. District Judge George Hazel. Annor faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Lesley has also pleaded guilty to the charges against him, according to the United States Department of Justice.

Lesley and his co-conspirators reportedly laundered money through approximately 34 bank accounts at 11 financial institutions. The victims reportedly paid more than $400,000 into personal bank accounts controlled by Annor, according to prosecutors.

Annor has been accused of laundering money through a shell company called Ravid Enterprise LLC that supposedly sold cars, the FBI said.

elderly woman
A Maryland man and his group reportedly preyed on at least 200 lonely elderly victims targeted through social media and dating websites to make $6.2 million from a “romance scheme.” This is a representational image. PIXABAY

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