Nevada Residents Convicted of Participating in Sophisticated Wire Fraud Conspiracy That Targeted Elderly Victims in Western Pennsylvania and Elsewhere
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - A U.S. citizen who resided in the Republic of Uganda, has been sentenced in federal court to six years and two months (74 months) in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $230,890 in restitution on his conviction of conspiracy to manufacture/pass/transfer/sell counterfeit currency, conspiracy to launder money, and committing counterfeiting acts outside the United States, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Chief United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak imposed the sentence on Ryan Andrew Gustafson, aka Jack Farrel, aka WillyClock, 31.
At the time of his guilty plea, the court was advised that Ryan Gustafson was leading an international counterfeit U.S. currency operation headquartered in the Republic of Uganda, which flooded the United States and Uganda with more than $2 million in counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes. Although counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes were being manufactured and distributed in Uganda, by December 2013, these Ugandan-manufactured counterfeit bills were being passed in Pittsburgh-area retail stores and businesses, specifically, in Oakland, Carnegie and McCandless Township. The scheme quickly spread to cities around the country. The bills were being advertised, bought and sold on a Dark Net website created by Gustafson called Community-X that was dedicated to the selling and passing of these counterfeit bills.
According to additional information provided to the court, the participants were producing counterfeit $100, $50 and $20 bills, packaging the counterfeit currency disguised as "Give a Child Hope Today" pamphlets, and shipping the packages to individuals they met through online criminal forums. In total, approximately $1.8 million fake notes were passed and seized in Uganda. In the U.S., approximately $270,000 in counterfeit currency was passed and seized. The criminal conspirators were passing the counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes in exchange for legitimate currency in the United States, Uganda and other countries.
Upon his arrest in Uganda in December 2014, Gustafson was provided the option of returning to the United States to face prosecution or to stay in a Ugandan prison and face prosecution in Uganda. Gustafson choose to stay in a Ugandan prison. Due to the Gustafson being a U.S. citizen and failing to present his passport to demonstrate that he was legally permitted to be in Uganda, the Ugandan government ordered the Defendant deported. He arrived in Pittsburgh to face prosecution in this instant case in December 2015. This 74-month sentence is time to be served in the United States and does not allow the Defendant to seek further credit for any time served in Uganda.
Assistant United States Attorney Shardul S. Desai prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
United States Attorney Brady commended the U.S. Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Gustafson.