Crime /

Delaware Woman Arrested for International Sextortion and Money Laundering Scheme

The scheme primarily targeted young men and minors from the United States.

Delaware Woman Arrested for International Sextortion and Money Laundering Scheme

A Delaware woman was arrested on Friday for charges related to her role in an international sextortion scheme that the Department of Justice says "targeted thousands of victims throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom."

Hadja Kone, 28, of Wilmington, is accused of being part of the sextortion ring from May 2020 through December 2022.

Kone and her alleged co-conspirators are accused of attempting "to extort approximately $6 million from thousands of potential victims and successfully extorted approximately $1.7 million from those victims, using CashApp and ApplePay accounts alone."

The DOJ said in a press release about the case, "Ouattara and others posed as young, attractive females online and initiated communications with thousands of potential victims, who were primarily young men and included minors from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Ouattara and others allegedly offered to provide and/or provided victims with sexual photographs, video recordings, and/or 'web cam' or 'live video chat' sessions of what they falsely portrayed to be an attractive young female, when in fact they were the ones operating the accounts."

Unbeknownst to the victims, during the web cam/live video chats, Ouattara and others surreptitiously recorded the victims as they exposed their genitals and/or engaged in sexual activity. Ouattara and others sent the victims copies of the victims’ fraudulently obtained sexual images and threatened to distribute the victims’ sexual images to the victims’ friends, family members, significant others, employers, and co-workers and to publish the victims’ sexual images widely online, unless the victims transferred funds to designated recipients. Ouattara, Kone, and others also operated infrastructure to transfer the funds illegally obtained from the victims to Ouattara and others located in Côte d’Ivoire and elsewhere overseas.

Siaka Ouattara, 22, was arrested by Ivoirian authorities in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on February 24.

Both Kone and Ouattara are charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and to send interstate threats, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, money laundering, and wire fraud.

The Department of Justice added, "If convicted, Kone and Ouattara each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each conspiracy count and money laundering count, and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count."

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