Two scammers had been convicted after tricking U.S. monetary establishments into processing hashish purchases price $ 150 million
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Two men, one from the United States and the other from Germany, who were convicted of conspiracy for bank fraud, could sit in prison for three decades.
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Two men could spend decades in jail for a sophisticated company that uses fake companies, fake websites, and fake customer service centers to trick U.S. financial institutions into making $ 150 million ($ 189 million) credit and debit card purchases for supposedly legal goods to process fact, weed.
It lasted four weeks, but the trial of Hamid “Ray” Akhavan, a 43-year-old California resident, and Ruben Weigand, a 38-year-old resident of Germany, recently ended with the two men convicted of counting the conspiracy, Committing bank fraud. Akhavan was the head of the program, and Weigand was responsible for overseeing purchases of bank accounts used by fake merchants and returning the proceeds to bank accounts in the US, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the southern borough of New York.
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The men “were in the business of selling lies,” said Manhattan attorney Audrey Strauss in the statement. They have “fake web traffic to these fake websites, all in the service of fraudulent money transfers through the US financial system,” explains Strauss.
The washing system is said to have been in operation from around 2016 to 2019. To implement the program, Akhavan and Weigand worked with “clients of one of the leading on-demand marijuana delivery companies in the United States,” the statement said.
The two men and other co-conspirators deceived virtually all participants in the payment processing network – including the issuing banks in the US, as well as Visa and MasterCard – and used Shell companies to disguise the cannabis transactions through the use of fake dealers.
Photo by Andrii Zorii / Getty Images
“The Shell companies were used to open offshore bank accounts with merchants who purchase banks and to collect credit card fees for marijuana purchases made through the company,” the statement said. In total, the company employed more than a dozen counterfeit merchants who claimed to keep US-based customer service numbers and suggested selling legitimate goods to process debit and credit card purchases of weed products.
“The defendants’ system even included fake visits to these websites to create the impression that the websites had real customers and were doing legitimate online business,” the statement said.
Tracking pixels have been used for customers who are confused about a transaction listed on their credit card statements so that they are automatically redirected to a website associated with the company when that customer switches to the listed URL. However, if a third party such as a bank or credit card company investigator visits a fake merchant’s URL, “they will not be redirected and therefore cannot see a link between a fake merchant’s website and the company and / or the sale of marijuana products. “
Akhavan, Weigand, and others even applied false dealer category codes (MCC) to the cannabis transactions to disguise their nature and create the impression that they were “completely independent of marijuana,” the statement said. Some MCC codes used included carriers, shorthand services, and department stores.
The maximum sentence for conspiracy to commit bank fraud is 30 years in prison, although a judge sets the sentencing scheduled for June 25th.
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