Prominent Ghanaian Influencer Charged For Role In Romance Scheme And Extradited From United Kingdom To The United States
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that earlier today LUIS RIVAS pled guilty to conspiring to commit bank bribery in connection with a business email compromise scheme that defrauded businesses of millions of dollars. RIVAS was the seventh person charged in this international scheme.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Bank employee Luis Rivas used his inside knowledge and access to open bank accounts for fake businesses so that his co-conspirators could receive and launder millions of dollars from victims who had been deceived. Now, Rivas is rightly being held accountable for his crime. Today’s guilty plea reflects this Office’s commitment to investigating and prosecuting individuals who abuse positions of trust at financial institutions to engage in corrupt criminal conduct.”
According to the Indictment and other public filings and proceedings in the case:
From at least in or about 2018 through at least in or about May 2020, LUIS RIVAS, who at the time of the offense was a financial sales advisor at a Houston branch of a national bank, agreed to accept payments in exchange for helping others open business bank accounts for phony companies. Those bank accounts were then used to receive more than $2.2 million in fraud proceeds. The money came from a business email compromise scheme in which businesses were defrauded by co-conspirators who impersonated, via email, individuals and businesses in the course of otherwise ordinary financial transactions, thereby fraudulently inducing the victims to transfer funds to bank accounts that the perpetrators controlled. The names of the phony companies used for the bank accounts that RIVAS helped open were purposefully chosen to mirror the names of the true counterparties in those business transactions.
RIVAS also helped the perpetrators access and launder the fraud proceeds. In particular, RIVAS assisted with unfreezing, transferring, and withdrawing money in transactions designed to conceal and disguise the funds’ source, ownership, and control.
RIVAS was generally paid between $500 to $1,500 for each account that he helped open and each transaction where he provided assistance. He received, in total, approximately $45,000 for his corrupt insider services.
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RIVAS, 36, of Houston, Texas, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. As part of his guilty plea, RIVAS agreed to forfeit $45,000 to the United States.
The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as RIVAS’s sentence will be determined by the judge. RIVAS is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel on March 21, 2023.
Mr. Williams praised the work of Homeland Security Investigations for their investigative efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Deininger is in charge of the prosecution.