Readers in Florida who thought scams threaten only the uninformed might be surprised to learn that even companies like Facebook and Google can be deceived by scammers — from anywhere in the world. A man from a Baltic state was recently indicted on wire fraud charges in federal court. He pleaded guilty to defrauding the internet giants and other tech companies out of more than $100 million.
According to court documents, the defendant established a fraudulent business behind an email scheme. Contracts, invoices and other documents were reportedly doctored in a way that deceived the corporate victims. From 2013 through 2015, the defendant sent emails for payment to various companies. Millions of dollars were then fulfilled by companies who wired the funds to the fraudulent creditor.
The indictment states that the defendant, who was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was based in Lithuania and impersonated a company in Taiwan. He set up bank accounts in various companies worldwide, to which he transferred the funds immediately upon receipt. These accounts were located in Hong Kong, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Cyprus and Latvia. At the plea hearing, the court ordered the defendant to forfeit almost $50 million for the count of wire fraud.
It remains to be seen what will happen when this man is sentenced for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering later this year. Anyone in Florida who faces similar charges would be advised to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney from the onset. A lawyer can focus on protecting the legal rights of the defendant at every stage of the legal proceedings, and work on a defense strategy designed to achieve the most favorable outcome for the client.