‘Latvian money mules’ key to regional ring: FBI

Sneaking into the US from Canada or Mexico, or simply abusing their visa-waiver privileges by overstaying 90-day limits in America, a network of ‘Latvian money mules’ has prompted US law enforcement agencies to release an alert for financial institutions about their activity since at least July 2013, when it was first detected.

The Daily Commercial of Leesburg, Florida reported Tuesday that one of these alleged persons was arrested in Eustis – appearing to be a 38-year old Georgian using one Armenian fake identity under official Polish national registry identification as well as a Latvian passport and ID card in an ethnic Latvian name.

He was detained at an ATM machine using a number of different bank accounts to juggle cash flows that a TD Bank Global Security and Investigations Officer believes is part of the Latvian money mule web of thieves. They are reported to have defrauded US consumers of as-yet untold millions of dollars, says a US State Department alert.

The Customs and Border Protection Service confirms no record of either of the man’s identities having ever physically crossed the US border.

The man was snared in a sting outside the bank machine when he couldn’t produce credible responses to basic identifying questions and suddenly called for legal representation by his suspicious-looking Mercedes-Benz.

The man – Giorgi Tsiklauri, Timur Alasanyan, Fridrihs Gulbis or whoever, has nevertheless been released on bond (worth only $7000) from the Lake County jail of the central Florida suburbs of Orlando.

The full alert report from the US law enforcement authorities, including the FBI, Customs and Border Protection Service, Secret Service and Diplomatic Security Service, says the traveling scammers are involved in such sordid money stealing affairs as check forgery, reshipping fraud, card reencoding and reembossing, tax refund fraud, account compromises such as account takeovers leading to wire fraud and online auto auction scams.

They have been listed seen coming though most of the major US cities, also coming in from Canada or Mexico.

Red flags include the suspects opening bank accounts with real passports, then using second fake ID’s (such as Ukrainian drivers’ licenses) to become mules in the money transferring networks involving businesses claiming to deal in vehicles or large equipment.

Then the mules show up at the bank bright and early after the transfers and start with a significant cash withdrawal, followed by a traveling spree of subsequent ATM withdrawals at different branches, after which the monies get deposited and transferred to further accounts from their real addresses and personal bank accounts far away from the scene of the fraudulent activities.

They stay on their mobile devices to check in on their automatic number identifiers to get the exact moment the money becomes available and then start pouncing on the cash, says the alert, which can be read in full HERE.

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Economy
Economy