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Press Release

Ghanian Citizen Sentenced to 6 Years for Money Laundering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin
Paul Williams Anti used false identities to collect and launder $3.8 million in wire fraud proceeds from victims across the U.S.

MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Paul Williams Anti, 61, a citizen of Ghana, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 6 years in federal prison for conspiring to launder proceeds of wire fraud. Williams Anti pleaded guilty to the charge on March 14, 2024.

Money laundering involves using financial transactions to conceal the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of illegally obtained funds. Between September 15, 2020, and March 13, 2023, Williams Anti controlled 14 separate bank accounts under 9 false identities and fraudulent business names. He used those bank accounts to collect and launder more than $3.8 million in proceeds from wire fraud schemes perpetrated on business and organization victims throughout the United States.

In addition to using false identities and fake business names for bank accounts, Williams Anti further concealed his identify from law enforcement by directing mail associated with the scheme to the mailbox of an elderly patient at an assisted living facility in Connecticut. Williams Anti was hired to care for the patient using yet another false identity.

At sentencing, Judge Conley noted that the Williams Anti’s conduct was sophisticated and calculated. He said he knowingly choose to participate in a massive scheme and set up a web of subterfuge to conceal his criminal conduct.

“We are grateful for the work of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to disrupt the money laundering that happens after business email compromise schemes or when other cyber-enabled fraud occurs,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea. “Often, the individuals who end up with the funds are not the ones conducting the online fraud, but they are critical components to the success of these schemes. I am grateful for the work of the agents in this case and my office remains committed to prosecuting those who launder proceeds of illegal activity.”   

“Actions such as those taken by Williams Anti to enrich himself by laundering ill-gotten funds are reprehensible and will not be tolerated,” said HSI Chicago Special Agent in Charge Sean Fitzgerald. “HSI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners to disrupt this type of conspiracy and to protect organizations and individuals from being victimized.” 

Law enforcement began investigating Williams Anti in October 2020, after an organization with its headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, fell victim to a wire fraud scheme commonly referred to as a “business email compromise scheme.” The $2.4 million in losses stemmed from the organization paying invoices between October 13, 2020 and October 20, 2020, which were later determined to be altered.

The fraudulent invoices appeared to be from legitimate vendors with whom the organization regularly conducted business, but the payee bank account and sometimes the account payable information had been altered by an unknown party prior to being sent to the organization’s employee for payment. This resulted in the organization’s funds being transferred to fraudulent bank accounts. Approximately $1 million of $2.4 million stolen from the organization was directed to two bank accounts, one in the name of G.P., dba Electronics General Goods and one in the name G.P., dba Gary Ventures. 

Following a lengthy investigation, law enforcement identified Williams Anti as the individual controlling the G.P. bank accounts. Law enforcement was then able to locate additional bank accounts and false identities being used by Williams Anti. From there, law enforcement was able to trace proceeds from these bank accounts to 29 other wire fraud victims around the U.S. These victims had been defrauded by similar business email compromise schemes and in total, lost approximately $7.7 million, of which approximately $3.8 million was directed to accounts controlled by Williams Anti. Williams Anti was arrested on March 14, 2023, in an apartment in the Bronx, New York.

A business email compromise (BEC) scheme is a sophisticated fraud scheme targeting businesses that use wire transfers as a form of payment.  Criminals compromise legitimate business email accounts through various hacking schemes, including social engineering and the use of malware. Once a business email account is compromised, a fraudulent email is sent directing the email recipient to unwittingly transfer funds to an illicit account. Alternatively, criminals create “spoofed” email domain names to trick people into thinking they know or do business with the sender. An email domain name is the part of an email address that comes after the “@” symbol. In email spoofing, one character in an email address is often changed or missing, thereby tricking the recipient. Criminals obtain and use privileged information to convince BEC email recipients that the transfer instructions are legitimate.

To avoid becoming the victim of a BEC scheme, verify that sender email addresses are accurate when checking mail on a cellphone or other mobile device before opening any attachments or following any instructions, and never make any payment changes without verifying with the intended recipient by phone or in person. If you think you have been a victim of a BEC scheme, 1) immediately contact your bank to request a recall or reversal as well as a Hold Harmless Letter or Letter of Indemnity; and 2) file a detailed complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. The Internet Crime Complaint Center is run by the FBI and serves as the country’s hub for reporting cybercrime. Visit www.ic3.gov for updated information regarding BEC trends as well as other cyber fraud schemes. For additional information on how to protect your business or organization from a business email compromise scheme, please visit:

https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/business-email-compromise

                or

https://www.secretservice.gov/investigation/Preparing-for-a-Cyber-Incident/BEC

The charge against Williams Anti was the result of an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Duchemin.

Updated June 7, 2024

Topics
Cybercrime
Financial Fraud