U.S. Seeks Forfeiture of Over $5M Linked to Email Scam, Alleging Funds Were Laundered Through Bank Accounts and Attempted Crypto Transfers

News | June 14, 2024 By:

On Wednesday, June 5, 2024, the United States government filed a civil forfeiture complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts seeking to seize over $5.3 million from seven bank accounts.

According to the complaint, the funds originated from a business email compromise (BEC) scam targeting a Dorchester, Massachusetts-based workers union in January 2023. Using a spoofed email address very similar to the union’s investment manager’s email, cybercriminals tricked the union into wiring $6.4 million intended for investment to a bank account controlled by criminal actors.

The complaint alleges that after receiving the fraudulent wire, the account holders began rapidly transferring funds between accounts in an apparent effort to launder the illegal proceeds and conceal their source. Over the next week, the funds were broken up and deposited into six additional bank accounts held at JPMorgan Chase and one at Texas Bank and Trust.

According to the filing, funds from the first account were then used to open the other six accounts and make deposits totaling over $5.3 million. The criminal actors allegedly directed the multiple account holders to quickly move money between the accounts through checks and wire transfers. Some transfers sent funds overseas, including to banks in China, Singapore, Nigeria, and Hong Kong.

Two attempted wire transfers totaling over $4 million were reversed by JPMorgan Chase before leaving one of the accounts. One of the reversed transfers was allegedly intended to send funds to a cryptocurrency exchange in New York, indicating the criminals may have been looking to further conceal the funds’ trail through digital currency transactions.

The filing names seven bank accounts as defendants that are subject to forfeiture based on alleged violations of federal money laundering and fraud statutes. The accounts and amounts seized included:

  • Approximately $143,586 from a JPMorgan Chase account.
  • Approximately $4,896 from another JPMorgan Chase account.
  • Approximately $5,240 from a third Chase account.
  • Approximately $4,335,334 from a fourth Chase account.
  • Approximately $581,530 from a fifth Chase account.
  • Approximately $183,546 from a sixth Chase account.
  • Approximately $61,613 from a Texas Bank and Trust account.

The complaint brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Department of Justice seeks forfeiture of the funds on the grounds that they were either direct proceeds of wire fraud or involved in money laundering transactions intended to conceal the nature and source of illegally obtained funds.

According to the verified complaint, the more than $5.3 million in assets represent the proceeds of wire fraud and property involved in monetary transactions over $10,000 derived from specified unlawful activity, satisfying two bases for forfeiture under federal anti-money laundering statutes.

The government is asking the court to seize the funds and award forfeiture to the United States. No criminal charges have been filed at this time, and the account holders in the filing have not been publicly identified.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.