Latvian police help FBI with fraud case arrest

A Latvian citizen has been detained in connection with an ongoing investigation into an international fraud case in the United States, the Latvian State Police (VP) said May 19.

On April 11 of this year, the State Police detained a Latvian citizen in connection with suspected participation in an international fraud scheme and money laundering in execution of an extradition request received from the US law enforcement authorities.

According to US court documents, the criminal group scammed more than 10 million US dollars (9.5 million euros). The arrested man, who was not named by police, will soon be extradited to the United States.

Since 2016, U.S. law enforcement has been investigating an international fraud and money laundering ring run by residents of both the United States and Europe. The members of the organized group had allegedly posted advertisements on their websites for the sale of cars, construction equipment, agricultural machinery and boats that did not actually belong to them. 

These products were offered for sale on websites such as Craigslist and eBay with the goal of attracting buyers throughout the United States. Potential buyers were required to transfer money to fraudulently created bank accounts, after which the funds were withdrawn from bank accounts and transferred from the United States by electronic transfer. Buyers did not receive the goods they thought they had purchased.

The leaders of the scheme recruited workers, or money mules, from Eastern Europe to go to the United States to open the necessary bank accounts and withdraw the money. Supervisors, in turn, coordinated fraudulent activities, provided instructions and forged documents to open bank accounts, and indicated when it was necessary to withdraw money. Supervisors were also accountable to managers who managed the flow of funds abroad.

During the investigation, it was established that a 29-year-old Latvian citizen was involved in this scheme as a supervisor.

The Latvian State Police received a request for legal assistance from the United States, which required a search of the Latvian citizen's residence and his questioning. The person's residence was searched and items relevant to the investigation were seized on the same day the person was arrested following a US extradition request. The person will soon be extradited to the United States.

The search of the person's residence on 11 April this year was carried out by the International Cooperation Bureau of the State Criminal Police Department in co-operation with officials of the Cybercrime Division of the Economic Crime Department of the State Police, with the participation of US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials. During the search, computer equipment, mobile phones, records, various bank cards and several SIM cards were removed.

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