Man Convicted by South Florida Jury of Laundering More than $3 Million in Proceeds from International Cyber Scams
FORT LAUDERDALE - Elvin I. Lewis, Jr., of Hollywood, Florida, was convicted today of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering charges, following a five-day jury trial. The charges stemmed from his decision to launder more than $3 million dollars in fraud proceeds from business email compromise (“BEC”) cyber scams, announced U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Brian Swain of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) Miami Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.
According to evidence at trial, from approximately November 2017 through August 2018, in Broward County, Florida, and elsewhere, Lewis knowingly and willfully agreed to participate in, and did participate in, a conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h) (Case No. 19cr60034). The purpose of the scheme was for Lewis and his co-conspirators to unlawfully enrich themselves, to hide illegal proceeds, and to further wire fraud schemes by, among other things, withdrawing, depositing, and transferring fraudulently obtained funds between banks, and individuals. As trial testimony established, Lewis also recruited others into the money laundering network, including a co-conspirator based in Detroit, whom he originally solicited on Craigslist.
Lewis’s co-conspirators – believed to be located abroad – contacted businesses (the “business victims”) located throughout the United States, using email, social media, and other Internet-based methods of communication, and falsely and fraudulently posed as vendors seeking payment for services rendered, in order to facilitate the BEC scams. The co-conspirators, posing as vendors, used spoofed emails and email account takeover techniques to send emails falsely and fraudulently directing the business victims to make payments to various bank accounts, through wire transfers, in purported satisfaction of invoices due to the actual vendors.
Lewis’s role in the laundering conspiracy was to wire fraud proceeds from the BEC scams into other corporate accounts under his and his co-conspirators’ control, in return for a five to ten percent cut of the funds. In particular, as trial evidence established, Lewis created more than eight accounts at different banks for his purported real estate investment business, “A NuFinancial Consortium LLC.” Through these accounts, Lewis laundered more than $3 million in BEC proceeds in less than a year, approximately $2.3 million of which was laundered in less than two weeks. Lewis variously converted the funds to cashier’s checks and cash, and wired money between accounts.
The business victims of the cyber scams included: a major Canadian city; a trucking company in Tennessee; a power company in Ohio; an axle company in Indiana and Detroit; an importing business in Chicago; and others.
In total, Lewis made more than $160,000 in cash during the course of the fraud and money laundering schemes. He used the funds to acquire a Porsche, which law enforcement seized as part of this criminal case.
Lewis is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 10, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Roy K. Altman. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of twenty years in prison as to each of the eleven counts of conviction. He also faces up to three years of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigatory efforts of the USSS and FBI in this matter. She also thanked IRS-CI’s Orlando Field Office for the trial assistance provided by a money laundering expert. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa H. Miller and Michele S. Vigilance. The asset forfeiture component of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison W. Lehr and Daren Grove.