Money laundering email scam sends Atlanta man to federal prison

ATLANTA – An Atlanta man has been sentenced to two years and six months in federal prison for scamming homebuyers in Minnesota and Oregon, a New Jersey company and a Delaware law firm of over $ 247,000.

Between October 2018 and February 2019, Anthony Dwayne King, 39, laundered more than $ 247,000, federal authorities said. He pleaded guilty and was convicted of a money laundering conspiracy on December 16, 2020, authorities said.

In a federal indictment, prosecutors said victims’ emails were somehow viewed using malware in what’s called a “business email compromise,” allowing King and his accomplices to learn about real estate transactions and redirect those payments to three fake bank accounts controlled by King.

“These cyber scams can be devastating for the businesses and individuals who fall prey to them,” said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta. “This is one of the main reasons the Georgia Cyber ​​Fraud Task Force was formed; to educate businesses and the community on how to avoid them. Arrests and convictions, like this one, will make it less lucrative and less attractive to those who plan to commit them. crimes. “

Federal prosecutors said King opened accounts between Oct. 2 and Oct. 17, 2018 at three banks in Atlanta, Johns Creek and Duluth under fake corporate identities. On Oct. 17, an Oregon home buyer received a call from an impersonator directing the victim to wire $ 45,000 that day to close a home, according to the indictment.

Several days later, on November 1, another buyer, this time in Minneapolis, received an email from someone posing as their real estate agent, providing wiring instructions for closing a house, have indicated the authorities. On the impostor’s instructions, this victim wired $ 83,460 to one of King’s banks in Atlanta, prosecutors said.

Weeks later, the Delaware law firm received an email from November 16 with instructions to transfer $ 68,403 in repayment funds to a mortgage company. That money, instead, went to one of the accounts King had opened in Atlanta, authorities said. The next day, he withdrew $ 3,800 in cash from the account at a bank branch, prosecutors said.

On February 27, 2019, the New Jersey company received an email from someone it believed to be a landlord with rental wiring instructions, prosecutors said. As reported, the company sent $ 51,040 to an Atlanta-based account, and the next day King wrote himself a check for $ 9,572 on that account and deposited the funds into his personal account. indicated the authorities.

“King and his conspirators opened bank accounts, using fictitious identities and fictitious companies, for the purpose of laundering funds stolen from victims across the country through compromised email systems,” said Acting US Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Now he is headed to federal prison and must fully reimburse victims. Our office will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who facilitate these cyber fraud crimes.”

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