A 27-year-old man from Florida pleaded guilty to being a part of a multi-money laundering scheme that expanded into East Texas.
Perry Lewis Crenshaw pleaded guilty at a federal court Friday. Crenshaw is the fifth of the six people charged in the case that confessed to the crime. Earlier in August, a woman from Tyler Texas, Tracey Brookshier, also confessed in court to being part of the money-laundering scheme.
Crenshaw will need to pay restitution in addition to $1.2 million.
Based on the information shown in court, Crenshaw in 2015 was contacted by a co-conspirator about being partners in a business venture and as part of the venture, Crenshaw was directed to pick up money from a call center sales at money services businesses in the Pensacola area.
He picked up about $40, 000 from the money services businesses and then deposited the money into a bank account. He was also asked to make a business called “Network Florida LLC” back in June 2015.
Acting U.S. attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei said: “Moving money on behalf of scammers helps facilitate the underlying criminal fraud, and ultimately contributes to the victimization of the public. Those that help launder the ill-gotten gains of these fraud schemes are subject to significant criminal penalties. The public needs to know that we will pursue not only the thief directly responsible for the fraud but also the enablers who help these scammers profit from their predatory behavior.”
Crenshaw also opened bank accounts under the name of the business and was able to employ around 20-25 people as his employees. Their job responsibility is just picking up money orders at money services businesses and dumping the funds in the Network Florida bank accounts.
He was paid 10% of the funds he was collecting. From June 2015 up to October 2016, Crenshaw was able to deposit approximately $1, 284, 649 in illegal proceeds into the Network Florida accounts.
From February to July of 2016, he was able to transfer an estimated $266, 106 in fraudulent proceeds from the Network Florida bank accounts to a foreign bank account. He then confessed that it became evident that the conspiracy was illegal, and the intention of the scheme was to conceal and disguise the nature of the proceeds produced by the scheme.
“Investigating scammers is a top priority for IRS Criminal Investigation. Mr. Crenshaw preyed on vulnerable elderly Americans by impersonating the IRS. We found him, and now he and his co-conspirators will be held accountable for their heinous crimes,” said Brian Payne, the special agent in charge.
As per the prosecution, the conspirators allegedly claimed that they work at call centers and got the money from victims by claiming that their Social Security numbers had been suspended as a result of suspicious activities, or that the victims owed taxes.
Callers also said that either of the said situations could be resolved by paying specific amounts. Those payments made allegedly went into accounts owned by the defendants.
According to the Justice Department, the scheme involved more than 4, 000 victims to pay around $3.2 million to the conspirators.
Crenshaw is yet to be sentenced. According to federal law, he is facing up to 20 years in prison.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).