Seven Individuals Arrested in Connection With $7.5 Million Multi-State Paycheck Protection Program Scheme
BOSTON – A Lynn man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with receiving and laundering approximately $1.4 million fraudulently obtained from a Korean company.
Chukwuemeka Eze, 37, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft charges. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for Feb. 3, 2020. Eze, 37, of Lynn, was arrested on a criminal complaint in June 2019, and is being held in federal custody.
Eze admitted that he used a victim’s name, date of birth and Social Security number without permission to open bank accounts in the victim’s name and in the name of a fictitious Massachusetts corporation that Eze created, Levistronix GMB Ltd. Eze selected the name for Levistronix because of its similarity to Levitronix GmbH, an actual Swiss company. In May and June 2018, others involved in the scheme sent fake Levitronix invoices totaling approximately $1.4 million to a Korean company that was a Levitronix customer. The fake invoices directed the company to send the $1.4 million to Eze’s deceptively-named Massachusetts bank account.
When Eze received the money, he withdrew cash, and spent tens of thousands of dollars on retail purchases, including Apple laptops and Zales’ jewelry. He also purchased $700,000 in bank checks payable to other fictitious companies that he controlled, which he deposited into bank accounts in those companies’ names. Eze in turn made cash withdrawals, retail purchases, and wire transfers from those bank accounts, all to conceal the fact that the money was the proceeds of the fraud scheme. In doing so, Eze spent or disbursed more than $862,000 of the Korean company’s money.
The charge of bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of $1 million, forfeiture and restitution. The charges of money laundering provide for sentences of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $500,000, forfeiture and restitution. The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a sentence of two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto of Lelling’s Cybercrime Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.