Second person arrested for crimes connected to $4M theft from city of Lexington

A second person has been charged in connection with a fraudulent scheme that resulted in the city of Lexington temporarily losing $4 million in August 2022.

An FBI agent swore out a criminal complaint in federal court in Kentucky against Nana Kwabena Amuah, a native of Ghana, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Amuah’s initial court appearance was in Buffalo, New York.

He is one of several conspirators who are alleged to have targeted business or municipal entities who were owed payments by other parties.

The group would impersonate vendors in emails with those entities and request wire payments to a new bank account, one opened in the name of Gretson Company LLC.

A resident of Houston, Shimea Maret McDonald, 24, was previously arrested and indicted as part of the scheme and helped to open three bank accounts under Gretson Company LLC, which was a shell company established in Texas by managing member K.N., whose identity had been stolen, McDonald’s indictment alleges.

The group then attempted to withdraw the money in a variety of payment methods, to quickly move the money elsewhere. In August, McDonald and others, using email, impersonated a nonprofit organization having business with the city of Lexington and convinced a city official to wire money owed to the non-profit organization into a bank account at Truist Bank, according to McDonald’s indictment, issued in January 2023.

Truist Bank and the city were able to recover all the Lexington funds that were transmitted, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court in Kentucky, Amuah asked McDonald to work for him after meeting her at a strip club in Miami, Florida, and stated she could “make a lot of money.”

Court documents state Amuah provided McDonald with fake identities, a cell phone, and asked her to form businesses with the Secretary of State in Texas, open bank accounts and conduct transactions.

The two used an encrypted messaging service called Telegram to communicate, which revealed years of communications about fraudulent activity, according to court documents.

Screenshots were shown in the affidavit which depicted the city’s money being deposited into the group’s illegitimate accounts, and also when the money was returned back to the city’s bank account.

“The Telegram communications indicate that many more victims had fallen prey to the wire fraud and money laundering scheme of which McDonald and Amuah were both integral parts,” an FBI agent said in an affidavit.

Authorities used footage from bank security systems and internet records to track down McDonald, and after she was arrested she said she worked for Amuah, according to the affidavit.

According to court documents, Amuah has faced criminal allegations in several states including Florida and New Jersey. The document states Amuah was laundering money in Fort Lee, New Jersey, working with five other people. The complaint states he was providing fake documentation and traveling to banks in Ohio to open up fake business accounts with documents provided.

Amuah is also alleged to be dealing with a third-party in Ghana, Africa, where he is from. According to court documents, Amuah had a New York driver’s license at one point; lived in Houston at the time of the scam; and moved a lot, according to a witness.

Amuah was ordered to be detained and the case was transferred to Lexington.