Two Gaithersburg brothers charged with helping to launder $5M in romance scheme
Federal authorities said they stole money from about 200 people
The U.S. District Court building in Greenbelt
Two brothers from Gaithersburg have been charged with helping to launder $5 million from more than 200 people around the world. Federal authorities say they accomplished the scam by convincing people that they were in romantic relationships with them.
David Annor, 27, and Lesley Annor, 22, were arrested on Monday and charged with money laundering, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.
According to the affidavit in the case, David Annor registered the shell company Ravid Enterprise LLC in Maryland on May 24, 2017, which was advertised as a car sale business where customers buy cars from an auction. The business was forfeited more than two years later.
The Annors and multiple “co-conspirators” tried to convince the victims that they were in romantic relationships and asked them for money, promising to repay them. The Annors opened or maintained bank accounts and 10 different financial institutions, some of which were registered under the Ravid Enterprise name, documents state. The bank accounts were used to receive money from the victims.
The co-conspirators live in both the United States and Ghana, the complaint states. In some cases, they asked for money to fly to the U.S. so that they could be with the victims. In other cases, they lied about needing money for other personal reasons.
Eight victims are described in the complaint. They are:
- A 55-year-old woman in Texas who met two of the co-conspirators online in 2016 and 2017. She told FBI agents that she sent more than $100,000 to the Annors, co-conspirators and Ravid Enterprise through December 2017.
- A 63-year-old woman in Virginia who met one of the co-conspirators online in 2018. She told FBI agents that she sent about $177,000 to David Annor, Ravid Enterprise and co-conspirators through December 2018. She also liquidated some of her 401k retirement account.
- A 63-year-old woman in Hawaii who met one of the co-conspirators online in 2018. Court documents state that she sent $17,150 to David Annor and Ravid Enterprise through April 2019.
- A 58-year-old man in Washington state who met one of the co-conspirators online in June 2019. Bank records state that he sent $206,500 to David Annor and one of the co-conspirators through December 2019.
- A 78-year-old woman in Georgia who met one of the co-conspirators online in early 2018. Bank records state that she sent $20,300 to David and Lesley Annor as well as a co-conspirator through June 2019.
- A 66-year-old man from Wisconsin who sent $95,405 in cashier’s checks to David Annor through January 2020.
- A 64-year-old woman from Illinois who met one of the co-conspirators online. According to documents, she sent a package and $13,700 to the co-conspirator.
- A 65-year-old woman in Texas who sent a package to David Annor.
According to the complaint, David Annor deposited $1,945,192 into his bank accounts from 2017 to 2019. Lesley Annor deposited $227,224 into his bank accounts.
The complaint alleges that the Annors kept 10% of the money they received from the victims and sent a portion to their co-conspirators, some of whom are in Ghana. The Annors also transferred some of the money between their accounts and the Ravid Enterprise account.
David Annor is being represented by Michael Citaramanis, an assistant federal public defender. Citaramanis declined to comment to Bethesda Beat on Thursday, which he said is consistent with “office policy and local court rules.”
Lesley Annor is being represented by G. Arthur Robbins, an Annapolis attorney with the firm Chesapeake Meridian. Robbins could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
If convicted, the Annors could each face up to 20 years in prison.
The Federal Trade Commission states on its website that in 2019, people reported losing $201 million to “romance scamsU.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur said in the press release on Thursday that many of the victims in this case were elderly. He encouraged anyone who thinks they might have been a victim to call the Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-372-8311.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org