Massachusetts Resident Pleads Guilty In “Black Money” Scheme
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Saah Johnson, 33, of Fall River, Mass., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., today to his participation in a “black money” scheme which defrauded a Massachusetts man of $100,000, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Ted A. Arruda, Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the U.S. Secret Service.
Black money schemes defraud individuals by persuading them that large quantities of banknote-sized paper is U.S. currency which has been dyed black, typically to avoid detection by customs agents. The victim is persuaded, with the prospect of sharing in the proceeds, to supply real currency in order to facilitate the removal of the black covering that overlays the supposedly genuine black currency. In reality, except for a few genuine currency bills used to advance the scheme, the “black money" is usually black construction paper.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Johnson admitted to the court that in October 2011, after several months of discussions, he and another person persuaded the victim to meet with them at a Providence hotel and to provide them with $100,000 in cash to process large quantities of “black money,” with a promised return of $300,000 in cash. Several hours after the “chemical process” to remove the black covering from several stacks of “black money” began, and Johnson and the other person had left the hotel room, the victim discovered that the stacks of “black money” were, in reality, stacks made up of mostly black construction paper. The $100,000 in cash provided by the victim had been stolen.
Johnson, who is detained in federal custody since his arrest on February 11, 2014, is scheduled to be sentenced on November 25, 2014.
Causing the interstate transportation of $5,000 or more in execution of a scheme to defraud is punishable by a statutory penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and term of up to 3 years supervised release.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Rose.
The Seekonk Police Department, Rhode Island Fire Marshal’s Office and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management provided assistance to the U.S. Secret Service in the investigation of this matter.
To assist the media and the public, a glossary of federal judicial terms and procedures is available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/