Five Arrested for Allegedly Laundering Nearly $1 Million from Business Email Compromise Fraud
SAN ANTONIO – A federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges five individuals for laundering nearly $1 million derived from a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scheme. FBI agents and local authorities arrested the defendants yesterday without incident.
The indictment charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering: 47-year-old Olufemi Nathaniel Itiowe, aka Baloi Maputo Oldemiro and John Koffi of Brooklyn, New York; 43-year-old Stacey Allison Ault, aka Tammy Botha and Cindy Theron of Brooklyn, New York; 38-year-old Enso Anderson of Long Branch, New Jersey; 33-year-old Edward Chance Johnson of Yukon, Oklahoma; and 52-year-old Bona Wong of Las Vegas, Nevada.
In a BEC scheme, scammers target businesses and individuals making wire transfer payments, especially those employees with access to company finances. The scammers trick the employees into wiring payments to bank accounts they believe belong to trusted partners but that are actually controlled by the fraudsters. Sometimes the scammers use computer intrusion techniques to alter legitimate payment request emails by changing the recipient bank accounts. Sometimes they send spoofed emails that appear to be from trusted partners.
The indictment alleges that the conspirators opened various bank accounts in the U.S. utilizing fraudulent identification documents. The indictment also alleges that the conspirators fraudulently procured funds using the BEC fraud, then worked quickly to withdraw or transfer the funds into various other accounts, which prevented the victims and banks from reversing the transactions. The indictment focuses on funds largely derived from BEC schemes perpetrated against victims in Montana and Texas from October 2018 to September 2019.
U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff and Christopher Combs, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, San Antonio Division, made the announcement.
Conspiracy to commit money laundering calls for up to 20 years in federal prison upon conviction.
The FBI together with the IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, New York Police Department, along with FBI New York, FBI Helena, Montana, FBI Oklahoma City and FBI Las Vegas conducted this investigation and made yesterday’s arrests. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly Stephenson and William F. Lewis Jr. are prosecuting this case.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.