Tanzanian woman convicted in US money laundering case

Sunna Sepetu. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Sunna is the sister of 2006 Miss Tanzania.

Dar es Salaam. Sunna Sepetu, 37, a Tanzanian national residing in Worcester, Massachusetts, has been found guilty of conspiracy to launder money derived from wire fraud.

Her co-defendant, Nafise Quaye, 47, a Nigerian, also from Worcester, was also convicted of the same charge following an eight-day trial in federal court. The two face up to 20 years in jail.

Sunna is the sister of 2006 Miss Tanzania.

The verdict was announced by US Attorney Jane Young, who emphasized the Department of Justice's commitment to prosecuting those who facilitate internet scams targeting vulnerable individuals.

"This verdict underscores the seriousness with which the US Department of Justice views internet scams that target vulnerable individuals," said US Attorney Jane Young.

 "The defendants knowingly received millions of dollars derived from a wire fraud scheme against a vulnerable American citizen and then transferred those funds overseas to the perpetrator. Prosecuting those in the United States who enable international online fraud is crucial to disrupting these networks that prey on unsuspecting victims."

Between 2013 and 2019, Sepetu and Quaye allegedly received approximately $3.2 million from a fraud victim in Texas. The money was transferred to bank accounts established by the defendants under the names of various shell companies.

The defendants then forwarded the stolen funds to the perpetrator of the fraud who is yet to be named in Africa, while keeping a portion for themselves.

The investigation was led by Homeland Security Investigations within the US Department of Homeland Security. Assistant US Attorney Charles Rombeau is prosecuting the case.