Woman Arrested for Leading International Sextortion and Money Laundering Scheme


A Delaware woman has been apprehended on charges related to orchestrating a sophisticated international sextortion and money laundering operation that preyed upon thousands of victims across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Hadja Kone, 28, of Wilmington, Delaware, was arrested today following the unsealing of an indictment implicating her and her alleged co-conspirator, Siaka Ouattara, 22, of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

The indictment sheds light on a web of cyberstalking, interstate threats, money laundering, and wire fraud that spanned from May 2020 to December 2022.

The scheme, detailed in the indictment, involved Kone, Ouattara, and others posing as young women online to initiate contact with primarily young men, including minors.

Using aliases and false personas, they offered sexual content and engaged victims in explicit video chats, surreptitiously recording them. Subsequently, they threatened to disseminate the illicitly obtained material unless victims transferred funds to designated accounts.

According to the indictment, Kone and Ouattara sought to extort approximately $6 million from their victims, successfully obtaining around $1.7 million via platforms such as CashApp and ApplePay.

Funds were then laundered through intricate networks to Ouattara and other overseas accomplices in Cote d’Ivoire.

Ivoirian authorities apprehended Ouattara on February 24, 2024, on charges related to the same scheme.

Kone and Ouattara face multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and interstate threats, money laundering, and wire fraud.

If convicted, each could face a maximum sentence of 20 years for each conspiracy count and money laundering count, as well as for each wire fraud count.

The announcement was made by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss for the District of Delaware, and Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

The FBI is leading the investigation with support from the government of Cote d’Ivoire. Prosecution is led by Trial Attorney Austin Berry of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Briana Knox for the District of Delaware.

The arrest underscores the gravity of cyber-enabled extortion schemes and highlights ongoing efforts to combat transnational cybercrime networks that exploit vulnerable individuals worldwide.