International money launderer sentenced to federal prison in cyber-crime conspiracies responsible for intended loss of nearly $60 million
Defendant ordered to pay victims in U.S. and elsewhere more than $30 million in restitution
SAVANNAH, GA: A Canadian man who conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars stolen in various wire and bank fraud schemes – including a massive online banking theft by North Korean cyber criminals – has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison.
Ghaleb Alaumary, 36, of Mississauga, Ontario, was sentenced to a total of 140 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker also ordered Alaumary to pay $30,703,946.56 in restitution to victims and to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.
“This defendant served as an integral conduit in a network of cybercriminals who siphoned tens of millions of dollars from multiple entities and institutions across the globe,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “He laundered money for a rogue nation and some of the world’s worst cybercriminals, and he managed a team of coconspirators who helped to line the pockets and digital wallets of thieves. But U.S. law enforcement, working in conjunction with its partners throughout the world, will bring to justice fraudsters who think they can hide behind a computer screen.”
As described in unsealed court documents and proceedings, Alaumary and his coconspirators used business email compromise schemes, ATM cash-outs, and bank cyber-heists to steal money from victims and then launder the money through bank accounts and digital currency. He previously pled guilty in the Southern District of Georgia in two money laundering cases.
In the first case, which was filed and investigated in the Southern District of Georgia, Alaumary conspired with others who sent fraudulent “spoofed” emails to a university in Canada in 2017 to make it appear the emails were from a construction company requesting payment for a major building project. The university, believing it was paying the construction company, wired $11.8 million CAD (approximately $9.4 million USD) to a bank account controlled by Alaumary and his coconspirators. Alaumary then arranged with individuals in the U.S. and elsewhere to launder the stolen funds through various financial institutions.
Weeks later, Alaumary arranged for a coconspirator in the United States to make several trips to Texas to impersonate wealthy bank customers in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims’ accounts using the victims’ stolen personally identifiable information. A telephone call with a coconspirator discussing the fraud took place in Savannah.
In the second case, which was transferred to the Southern District of Georgia from the Central District of California for his guilty plea and sentencing, Alaumary recruited and organized individuals to withdraw stolen cash from ATMs; he provided bank accounts that received funds from bank cyber-heists and fraud schemes; and, once the ill-gotten funds were in accounts he controlled, Alaumary further laundered the funds through wire transfers, cash withdrawals, and by exchanging the funds for cryptocurrency. The funds included those from a 2019 North Korean-perpetrated cyber-heist of a Maltese bank. Other victims of Alaumary’s crimes included banks headquartered in India, Pakistan, and Malta, as well as companies in the U.S. and U.K., individuals in the U.S., and a professional soccer club in the U.K.
“International money launderers provide critical services to cybercriminals, helping hackers and fraudsters to avoid detection and hide their illicit profits,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Small and large companies, a university, banks, and others lost tens of millions of dollars in this scheme. Alaumary’s sentence today reflects how seriously the Department of Justice considers the critical role that money launderers play in global cybercrime.”
“The sentencing of the defendant in this case speaks to the value of investigative collaboration across borders,” said U.S. Secret Service Atlanta Field Office SAIC Steven R. Baisel. “In spite of the complicated, international nature of this criminal enterprise, the defendant and his co-conspirators were still brought to justice.”
“This case is an example of our relentless determination to hold criminals accountable no matter how sophisticated their crimes may seem,” said Phil Wislar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The arrest and sentencing of cyber criminals like Alaumary, who feel safe hiding behind a computer screen, are only possible through persistent investigative efforts of the FBI and our close collaboration with our U.S. and international partners.”
Alaumary is the fourth defendant in this investigation sentenced in the Southern District of Georgia. Uchechi Ohanaka, Kelvin Desangles, and Jennal Aziz previously pled guilty in federal court to fraud felonies and were sentenced to terms totaling more than 200 months in prison.
The cases were investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Savannah Resident Office with assistance from the Los Angeles Field Office and the Global Investigative Operations Center, the FBI, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and prosecuted by the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Khaldoun Shobaki of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.