Breaking News: ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. Victim Turned Into Money MuleMoney Mule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes. Arrested In West Virginia
Huntington Woman Indicted as Part of International Nigerian FraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. Scheme for Laundering Funds
This Elderly Scam Victim Being Made An Example By Prosecutors To Deter Others From Becoming Mules
As we have reported before, the U.S. Government is beginning to crack down on scam victims that are converted into money mulesMoney mules Money mules are a type of money laundering where a person transfers illicit funds through a medium (such as a bank account) to obfuscate where the money came from. There are different types of money mules including witting, unwitting, and complicit.. This is especially true if they are in such profound denialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. that they refuse to stop once told by the police to end it. This is just the latest example of an elderly scam victim that supported Nigerian scammers and exploited other scam victims.
CHARLESTON, West Virginia — United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced that a federal grand jury has indicted a Huntington woman in connection with laundering funds from an international fraud scheme that scammed money from individuals, many of whom were elderly, in several states and foreign countries.
A twelve count indictment was returned against Patricia Dudding, 68, of Huntington, charging her with conspiracy to commit money launderingMoney laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions., bank fraud and unlawful money transactions. The indictment alleges that Dudding acted as a money mule for a Nigerian scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer.. According to the indictment, Dudding met “Lucas” online in the early spring of 2018, and although they never actually met in person, Dudding and Lucas communicated frequently by email and text messages. The indictment alleges that Dudding set up numerous bank accounts in her name at over 10 different banks and that she would use these bank accounts to wire and receive fraudulent funds. Dudding received numerous deposits in those bank accounts from more than two dozen individuals located in the United States and abroad. She, and unnamed co-conspirators, would then transfer these funds to bank accounts located in Nigeria. To further the scheme, Dudding admittedly would make false and fraudulent representations to the financial institutions to make it appear that the wire transfers were being sent for legitimate purposes.
“Egregious. This is the largest elder fraud scheme ever prosecuted in the history of West Virginia and our work continues. This case is significant on a national and international level,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Elder fraud is an important priority for Attorney General Barr and me. Elder fraud is a diabolical crime that preys on the vulnerabilities of some of the most vulnerable among us. By all outward appearances, Mrs. Dudding was just an ordinary neighbor but, instead, the indictment alleges she was what we call a “money mule” actively engaged in facilitating a money laundering scheme that left many, many victims in its wake. The stories of the victims are tragic. Our goal is to hold those responsible accountable and to do our best to make victims of these despicable crimes whole. This investigation is on-going.”
“The exploitation of both a vulnerable population as well as our financial systems is a particular evil,” said U.S. Secret Service Charleston Resident Agent in Charge Wade Fleming. “These criminals may not hide behind false identities and fraudulent accounts, and our skilled investigators will continue to pursue and bring these malicious actors before our justice system.”
Money mules play critical roles in the commission and facilitation of fraudulent schemes including elder fraud. A money mule is someone who transfers illegally acquired money on behalf of or at the direction of another party. CriminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. enterprises recruit what is referred to as a “muleMule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes.” to move money electronically through bank accounts, move physical currency, or assist in the movement of money through a variety of other methods. Money mules are inherently dangerous, as they add layers to the money trail from a victim to a criminal and launder money illegally to aid a criminal actor.
The indictment alleges that Dudding used over $100,000 of victim funds for her personal benefit over the course of the scheme. Dudding used those funds to pay her utility bills, satellite television service, groceries, drug store purchases, gasoline purchases, department store purchases, restaurants and took numerous cash withdrawals. Her total cash withdrawals amounted to nearly $42,000. The total loss contributed to the fraudulent scheme is $3.2 million. Over $3 million was transferred or deposited into Dudding’s accounts during the scheme and she attempted to transfer over $1.6 million to Nigeria during this period.
During the course of the investigation, warrants were issued for the seizure of nearly $1.9 million related to the alleged scheme. The indictment seeks forfeiture of those funds.
The victims in this case that have been identified are from six (6) countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Nevis, Poland, and Sweden as well as twenty (20) states including Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) – Office of Inspector General and the South Charleston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Robeson is handling the matter.
“Elder fraud and financial fraud are complex frauds. I want to commend the excellent, detailed work of the Secret Service, the FDIC-OIG and the South Charleston Police Department, and my team, including AUSA Robeson and my remarkable investigators, Steve Rowley and Tony Hussion. This was a team effort and I’m proud of their work,” continued Stuart.
If convicted on all counts, Dudding faces up to 20 years in prison. The investigation is ongoing and could result in additional federal and state charges in the future.
Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors. In particular, in March 2019, the department announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history, charging more than 260 defendants in a nationwide elder fraud sweep. The department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act.
More information about the department’s efforts to help American seniors is available at its Elder Justice Initiative webpage. Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimizationVictimization Victimization (or victimization) is the process of being victimized or becoming a victim. The field that studies the process, rates, incidence, effects, and prevalence of victimization is called victimology. through its Office for Victims of Crime, which can be reached at https://www.ovc.gov.
Please Note: An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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It is essential that law enforcement knows about scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.
Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:
- Local PoliceLocal Police The Local Police is your first responder in most countries. In most English-speaking countries and in Europe report to them first. In other countries look for your national cybercrime police units to report scams to. In the U.S., Canada, & Australia, you must report to the local police first. – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
- U.S. State Police (if you live in the U.S.) – they will take the matter more seriously and provide you with more help than local police
- Your National Police or FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. « www.IC3.gov »
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