FinCEN’s Annual List of Top Crimes Solved, Part 2
July 6, 2017
Continuing from part 1 of this story, here are some of the other recipients of FinCEN’s annual awards that recognizes law enforcement agencies that made effective use of financial institution reporting to successfully prosecute crimes:
Cyber Threats: IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI)
A multi-year, multi-agency investigation, led by IRS-CI focused on several targets selling narcotics on the dark web and distributing them through the U.S. Postal Service. The shipment of the illegal drugs were disguised inside packages filled with markers and drawing paper, and multiple return addresses and sender names were used. Despite the guise, postal inspectors were able to determine that the mailings originated from the same individual.
Through internet service provider records, investigators were able to determine that the username associated with several undercover purchases on the dark web belonged to the same individual identified by the postal service. With this information, it was found that over a six-month period the individual had sent 435 suspicious packages on at least 50 different occasions.
With financial data, it was also discovered that Bitcoins were being used to pay for narcotics and to launder money before it was converted into U.S dollars and deposited into several accounts. As result of this investigation, many targets were arrested and eventually pled guilty to various drug and money laundering charges.
Significant Fraud: Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS)
Multiple financial institutions identified a single individual that was structuring transactions and had excessive credit card charges. Investigators at DCIS determined that one of companies receiving funds had been providing subcontractor support for a military contract in Afghanistan.
Upon further investigation, it was found that this business was also a shell company for a U.S. military official to conceal bribery payments he was receiving in exchange for helping the primary target win contracts.
Further analysis of financial data found that $24 million was deposited into the personal accounts of the primary target, most of which were deposits from his employer, a Department of Defense prime contractor providing logistical support and training to foreign military units.
These deposits were followed immediately by transfers to several bank accounts and structured cash withdrawals.
The U.S. military official receiving the bribery helped the primary target win $54 million in bids and was paid over $9 million through an extensive network of shell companies and bank accounts.
The targets eventually pled guilty to various conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction, and fraud charges. Investigators were able to seize $12.3 million in assets including property, cars, boats, aircrafts, firearms, gold coins and bank accounts.
Third-Party Money Launderers: Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
Through a FinCEN-issued Geographic Targeting Order (GTO) where armored car services importing or exporting funds through two specific geographies were required to provide additional identifying information on certain transactions, it was found that one company appeared to be facilitating a money laundering scheme.
HSI investigators discovered that the company was importing U.S. dollars and Mexican pesos from casas de cambio in Mexico and depositing them into bank accounts of shell companies owned by two individuals who owned and operated the car service company.
These individuals also owned other companies, two of which were registered as money services businesses (MSB) that were funneling millions of U.S. dollars back to Mexico.
Transaction records identified cash deposits of $45 million over a 15-month period, which were then transferred in and out of the accounts of the various companies owned by the individuals before ultimately being wired to Mexico.
As a result of the investigation, both individuals pled guilty to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, lost all licenses necessary to operate as an MSB and forfeited hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars and Mexican pesos.
About Anu Sood
Anu Sood (LinkedIn | Twitter) is the Director Marketing at CaseWare RCM and is responsible for the company’s global marketing strategy. She has over 20 years of experience in product development, product management, product marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, content marketing and strategic marketing in high-tech industries.