Michigan resident Timy Hakim has been sentenced to two years in prison and an additional six months of home detention for his involvement in a conspiracy to defraud at least 15 elderly victims through romance scams, lottery schemes, and business email compromise (BEC) fraud. The sentencing was carried out by U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman.
Hakim, a U.S. citizen, played a pivotal role in a wire fraud conspiracy that spanned from 2015 to November 2019 and resulted in losses exceeding $1.4 million. The scheme, which involved Hakim and his co-conspirators, preyed on vulnerable individuals who had recently lost their spouses. Several victims were left devastated, with some even losing their life savings and one victim reporting feelings of suicide.
The culprits behind the elaborate fraud utilized various methods, including a “Romance Scheme,” a “Lottery Scheme,” and a “BEC Fraud Scheme.” In the Romance Scheme, the scammers leveraged the victims’ trust by feigning romantic relationships through online platforms. Once trust was established, the perpetrators would then request money from their unsuspecting victims. In the Lottery Scheme, the criminals informed victims that they had won a cash prize but needed to make certain payments before accessing the funds. Finally, in the BEC Fraud Scheme, the fraudsters impersonated a company founder to deceive a corporate victim located in Manhattan into releasing funds.
One of Hakim’s essential roles was facilitating the laundering of the fraudulently obtained proceeds. He opened and operated multiple U.S. and foreign bank accounts that received funds from the victims. Additionally, Hakim provided his South African co-conspirators with American cell phones to establish contact and deceive the victims. On one occasion, he personally contacted a victim, pretending to be a government official involved in detaining the victim’s partner—an attempt to coerce the victim into sending money.
The victims, both individuals and corporations, suffered significant financial losses as a result of the schemes. The most affected were vulnerable, isolated, and elderly victims who had recently lost their spouses and were targeted over several years. Once convinced by the scammers, the victims drained their entire retirement savings and even resorted to borrowing from family and friends. The emotional toll was severe, leaving one victim reporting suicidal thoughts after losing her retirement savings.
In addition to the prison term, Hakim, 47, will face three years of supervised release, including six months of home detention. He has also been ordered to pay $1,414,043 in restitution and forfeit $671,452.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams applauded the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their diligent investigative work in the case. The trial was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Vladislav Vainberg leading the prosecution.
The conviction and sentencing of Timy Hakim highlight the ongoing efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat fraud schemes targeting vulnerable individuals. As awareness increases, it is crucial for the public to remain vigilant and exercise caution when engaging in online relationships or responding to unsolicited financial requests.