United States v. Ayelotan, et al 1:14cr33
Operation Scams-R-Us involves a transnational organized crime enterprise (TOC) operating numerous complex financial fraud schemes via the internet.
The indicted case of mass marketing fraud includes romance-reshipping scams, fraudulent check scams, work-at-home scams and account take-overs. Victims believe they are conducting work at home payroll services or repackaging and mailing of electronic items such as cell phones and computers for charities and other legitimate purposes. Victims are provided mailing labels and/or addresses over the internet and may be asked to mail or ship electronic items to South Africa or Nigeria. Victims are asked to withdraw money at ATMs using prepaid cards and forward money to others. Victims’ identities have been stolen for use in purchasing prepaid cards and cellular phones for use by the organization. The mass marketing fraud is supported by a sophisticated operation that includes “bombing” (i.e., spamming emails) on various job and dating websites, manipulation of new victims that become potential electronic mules (emules) in the U.S. and overseas that are involved in reshipping parcels containing fake bank checks, stolen merchandise, and laundering of illicit fraud proceeds via the U.S. banking system and the identified money transfer companies to overseas co-conspirators.
The investigation has identified several other fraud schemes conducted by the same group. The identified money laundering methods used by the transnational financial fraud organization include the use of global money transfer companies such as Western Union, MoneyGram, and Ria Money Transfer, as well as numerous prepaid bank cards such as American Express Serve, Bluebird, and MAGIC prepaid, to layer the financial fraud proceeds and move the funds to Nigeria and South Africa.