Court documents: Columbus restaurant closes after owner helps launder proceeds from multi-million dollar romance scam

Jack McLaughlin

A former north side restaurant owner was the last of seven sentenced for his involvement laundering proceeds from a romance scam that netted $11.2 million in total, according to a Justice Department press release.

Kwame O. Yeboah, a 38 year-old from Columbus, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release earlier this week. He allegedly laundered $1.7 million through bank accounts in his control, and is ordered to pay restitution for this amount as well.

The scam typically used fake dating website profiles to cultivate relationships, eventually pressuring those who were romantically or emotionally invested to send the perpetrators money, usually under the guise of an investment.

The seven local individuals convicted did not participate directly in the scam, but where involved in laundering the proceeds, according to the Justice Department


According to a sentencing memorandum filed by Yeaboah’s lawyer, Keith A. Yeazel on Feb. 11, Yeobah was the owner of the Twist Lounge & Grill, a restaurant that was located at 1023 Mediterranean Ave. While operating the restaurant, he was introduced to co-defendants Robert Asante and Eric Ahiekpor as potential investors. The pair at the time were involved in romance scams. 

“Once Kwame discovered the funds were derived from romance scams, he confronted Asante and Ahiekpor. Nonetheless, Kwame continued to conduct business with Asante and Ahiekpor, out of fear of being prosecuted because his accounts and businesses were now associated with criminal activity. Due to Assante and Ahiekpor’s actions, the Twist Lounge and Grill actually lost money and was closed,” Yeazel’s filing reads. The documents do not say when the restaurant closed.

Asante (of Canal Winchester) and Ahiekpor (of Lewis Center)  were previously sentenced to 60 months and 36 months in federal prison.

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