Fraudsters employ TBML to shift proceeds of email, romance and pandemic-related scams from US to Ghana

Six people have been arrested in the US in connection with their roles in a fraud and money laundering conspiracy based in Ghana involving the theft of tens of millions of dollars. 

Those arrested employed trade-based money laundering (TBML) operations to remit illicit funds from the US to Ghana.

Web of companies

Between 2013 and 2020, the defendants were members of a criminal enterprise based in Ghana that committed a series of business email compromises, romance scams and fraud schemes related to the novel coronavirus pandemic against individuals and businesses located across the US.

Some of the six received fraud proceeds from their victims in dozens of business bank accounts that they controlled in New York, New Jersey and Virginia. 

The business bank accounts were opened in the names of companies formed by the defendants that were purportedly involved in, among other things, automobile sales, food imports and exports, and freight trucking and shipping. 

Ghanaian connection

Once the six received fraud proceeds in bank accounts under their control, they withdrew, transported, and laundered those fraud proceeds to co-conspirators abroad. 

The defendants primarily laundered the fraud proceeds through their businesses by using the proceeds to purchase automobiles, food products, and other goods from US-based suppliers and distributors of such products and shipping those products to Ghana and elsewhere. 

Apparently legitimate

The defendants’ transactions had the appearance of legitimate business transactions when, in fact, the products had been purchased using the proceeds of fraud schemes. 

This TBML operation was designed to obscure the origin of the fraud proceeds as well as the identity of the ultimate beneficiaries of these schemes. 

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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