Eight individuals indicted by a US jury in Boston for their alleged roles in elaborate money laundering and money transmitting conspiracies operated a sophisticated trade-based money laundering (TBML) scheme that used stolen or fraudulent gift cards to purchase and ship thousands of Apple products internationally.
The defendants also laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of drug proceeds in exchange for Chinese Renminbi, allegedly accepting drug proceeds in Boston and New York for a fee, transferring the equivalent value of Chinese Renminbi to drug traffickers’ bank accounts and “selling” the drug proceeds to US individuals at a discounted exchange rate.
In the TBML scheme, the defendants allegedly amassed stolen or fraudulent American Express gift cards that would then be used to buy Apple gift cards.
Ring members would then take these gift cards to a local Apple store and try to exchange them for laptops, tablets and phones. They also made online purchases.
Dubai and beyond
The Apple products would then be sold through a separate company to purchasers in Dubai.
Once there, the devices are believed to have been sold to countries where Apple devices are either not lawfully available or prohibitively expensive.
The funds from the international sale of these devices were then funnelled back to the US, including through wire transfers to the defendants and others.
Legitimate business fronts
The ring’s several money laundering operations made extensive use of apparently legitimate local businesses. One of the defendants, Qiu Mei Zeng and her former husband, Zhang, co-own China Gourmet, a restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown neighbourhood.
Zhang is also a registered owner of Wonderful Electronics, an electronics and restaurant supply business based in Hanover, Massachusetts.
A statement by the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts on the case can be found here.
Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News