Fifteen Individuals Charged in Multi-Million Dollar International Money Laundering and Fraud Scheme
Fifteen individuals, including twelve Florida residents, have been charged in a multi-million dollar international money laundering and fraud scheme in two Indictments.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Timothy R. Langan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security (ICE-HSI), made the announcement.
One Indictment charges Roda Taher, 38, of Beruit, Lebanon, Geannis Gonzalez, 31, of Peyton, Colorado, Alfredo Tovar, 36, of Miami Gardens, Quiana Velasco, 35, of Miami, Jose Daniel Estrella, 38, of Hallandale, Pedro Reyes, 38, of Hialeah, Robinson Castillo, 32, of Pembroke Pines, and Jamie Vives Castillo, 41, of Pembroke Pines, with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, money laudering, and conducting transactions in criminally derived property. Hanan Jaafar, 26, of Beruit, Lebanon, is also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
According to the Indictment, from 2008 to the present, Taher has managed and supervised a criminal organization engaged in money laundering and transactions in criminally derived property that has received approximately $94 million dollars in fraudulent proceeds. The organization utilized bank accounts established in the names of shell corporations to receive the proceeds of various fraudulent schemes, including romance frauds, email hacking schemes, and inheritance and lottery scams, that victimized individuals and corporations across the United States. The defendants would recruit individuals to act as “money mules,” establishing the shell corporations in the money mules’ names. The defendants would then have the money mules open bank accounts throughout South Florida in the names of their shell corporations, instructing the mules to falsely represent to the banks that the shell corporations were legitimate businesses engaged in the import, export, or sale of various goods. Once these bank accounts received money wired from a fraud victim, the defendants would instruct the money mules to wire the money to other accounts overseas. Defendants Gonzalez, Tovar, Velasco, Estrella, Reyes, Castillo, and Vives Castillo all incorporated shell corporations and eventually graduated to recruiting and managing money mules on behalf of the organization. Defendant Jaafar, Taher’s wife, also received criminal proceeds from other members of the organization and transferred portions of those proceeds to accounts overseas.
A second Indictment charged Luis Angel de Jesus Alfonseca Pujols, 24, of Sunrise, Gary Alberto Camillo, 26, of Pembroke Pines, Jean-Phillipe Etienne, 25, of Pembroke Pines, Randy Eliessel Santos, 29, of Hollywood, and Cosme Daniel Enrique Vasquez, 36, of Miramar, with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, international money laundering, money laundering, and bank fraud. The indictment also charged Karina Marie Ocasio, 24, of Weston, with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, money laundering, and bank fraud.
If convicted of the charged conduct, the defendants face a possible maximum statutory sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud; 30 years’ imprisonment for bank fraud; 20 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit money laundering; 20 years’ imprisonment for money laundering; 20 years’ imprisonment for international money laundering; and 10 years’ imprisonment for conducting transactions in criminally derived property.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, HSI and the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in connection with the investigation of this matter. The case against Taher et.al. is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared M. Strauss and Michael G. Walleisa. The case against Alfonseca Pujols, et. al. is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwayne E. Williams.
An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.