Ransomware

Florida Man Jailed For Laundering Millions In Romance Scams

Court documents revealed that Garcia provided bank accounts to his co-conspirators, who used them to receive proceeds from these scams.

by Samiksha Jain April 24, 2024 in Bug Bounty & Rewards, Firewall Daily Reading Time: 3 mins read 0

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In a federal courtroom today, a Florida man received a 48-month prison sentence for his involvement in laundering the proceeds of scams targeting American consumers and businesses, revealing the grim realities of transnational fraud and its impact on victims.

Niselio Barros Garcia Jr., 50, of Winter Garden, was part of a network that laundered funds obtained through various fraudulent schemes, including romance scams, business email compromises, and other fraud tactics.

Money Laundering Scam Details

Court documents revealed that Garcia provided bank accounts to his co-conspirators, who used them to receive proceeds from these scams. Subsequently, Garcia transferred the illicit funds in Bitcoin through a cryptocurrency exchange to co-conspirators located in Nigeria.

Romance scams involve perpetrators creating fake online personas to exploit victims emotionally and financially, while business email compromises entail criminals hacking or spoofing business email accounts to initiate fraudulent money transfers. These schemes inflict not only significant financial losses but also profound emotional and psychological impacts on victims.

Garcia, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit in January, admitted to personally laundering over $2.3 million of criminal proceeds. As part of his sentence, Garcia was ordered to forfeit $464,923.91 in proceeds that he personally received from the offense. Despite Garcia's conviction, four additional defendants charged in the scheme remain at large.

Department of Justice's Commitment to Combat Fraud

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton emphasized the Department of Justice's commitment to prosecuting transnational fraud and those who facilitate it. Boynton highlighted the crucial role of third-party money launderers in enabling large-scale transnational fraud schemes. By facilitating the concealment of illicit profits, these individuals contribute to the perpetuation of fraud networks.

“This case demonstrates the department's continued commitment to prosecuting transnational fraud and those who knowingly facilitate it,” said the head of the Justice Department's Civil Division.

“By facilitating the concealment of illicit profits, third-party money launderers enable large-scale transnational fraud schemes. This case underscores the department's commitment to protecting consumers and disrupting the infrastructure that makes these crimes lucrative,” he added further.

The case was investigated by the FBI Buffalo Field Office, underscoring the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat financial fraud.

Trial Attorneys Lauren M. Elfner and Matthew Robinson of the Civil Division's Consumer Protection Branch prosecuted the case, reflecting the Justice Department's dedication to holding perpetrators of financial fraud accountable.

Amidst the prevalence of such scams, the Justice Department operates the National Elder Fraud Hotline (1-833-FRAUD-11 or 1-833-372-8311) to provide support to victims aged 60 and older who have experienced financial fraud. Managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, the hotline offers personalized assistance by assessing the needs of victims and guiding them through the reporting process.

Case managers help victims connect with appropriate reporting agencies, provide information on reporting procedures, and offer referrals and resources on a case-by-case basis.

The hotline, available Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET in English, Spanish, and other languages, emphasizes the importance of reporting fraud to help authorities identify and prosecute perpetrators and increase the chances of recovering losses.

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