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This is my 21st post in the Divorce & Hidden Money series.  It is also the 8th post in my series describing what private investigators can and cannot do legally when searching for hidden assets.  My July 13th post mentioned private investigators & their clients using law enforcement databases and illegal pretext calls to

This post describes a case in which illicit drug monies were concealed offshore and laundered via a Cayman Island bank account.  The case is also about tax fraud; identity theft and a murder.   I published the post earlier at the Asset Search Blog and have used the post as a handout at many of my speaking engagements.  It is an example of how financial fraudsters can operate.  Some of the facts below have been changed/sanitized for privacy reasons.  The following occurred over a four month period during 2002:

TAX FRAUD

As part of his tax fraud, “Mr. Wallace” contacted a Cayman Island bank by mail in order to open a personal account with it.  He mailed account opening documents to it which included a copy of his U.S. passport and also supplied the names of references. According to these documents, Mr. Wallace lived in Miami and was a real estate developer.  Based upon all of the foregoing, the Cayman Island bank opened Mr. Wallace’s personal account with a “O” balance.  Just six days later however, bank “X” in Panama wired $6.3 million to Mr. Wallace’s Cayman account without any mention of the remitter.

Mr. Wallace then went on a business trip to Central America for several months; so he rented his Miami home to “Chuck”.  Although Mr. Wallace hadn’t known at the time, Chuck was a small-time crook.  In fact, soon after Chuck took possession of Mr. Wallace’s home, Chuck started stealing Mr. Wallace’s mail.  One of the letters Chuck had stolen was written by “Bob”, a personal banker from the Cayman Island bank where Mr. Wallace maintained his account.  Bob had written to Mr. Wallace about a lucrative investment opportunity.

THE IDENTITY THEFT & MURDER

Surmising from Bob’s letter that Mr. Wallace had a sizable bank account, Chuck wrote to Bob pretending to be Mr. Wallace.  As the sanitized copy of Chuck’s First Letter partly demonstrates, Chuck had assumed Mr. Wallace’s identity in that particular letter by forging Mr. Wallace’s signature.  To comfort Bob, Chuck’s First Letter had also asked Bob for the minimum balance required to keep Mr. Wallace’s account open. Chuck’s “softening up” letter further suggested to Bob that Mr. Wallace’s funds might soon be needed “at very short notice” for an alleged real estate deal in Mexico.  In the sanitized copy of Chuck’s Second Letter, Chuck again pretended to be Mr. Wallace as he wrote to Bob at the Cayman Island bank.  In his Second Letter, Chuck directed the wire transfer of Mr. Wallace’s funds from the Cayman Island bank to Chuck’s own bank account in Mexico.
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The criminal complaint filed in U.S.A. v. Brandon Lee Price, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 12-152 M, essentially claims that Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen was the target of an identity theft.  As reported at “Identity Thief Targets Billionaire Allen”, suspected identity thief Brandon Lee Price of Pittsburgh supposedly

The following fact pattern has been changed for privacy reasons:

Robert received dunning letters and phone calls from debt collectors because he supposedly owed more than $50,000 dollars in credit card debt.  The debt collectors alleged that various financial institutions had issued Robert seven credit cards many years ago.  These debt collectors too claimed that

Secreting Assets Without A Border Trace” shows the role portable valuable commodities like diamonds can have in a scheme to hide assets.  This January 4th “Asset Search News Roundup” reviews two more ways assets can be hidden.

Bulk Cash Smuggling

A December 16th press release refers to one case now being prosecuted which

$20 million airline-ticket fraud aided by hotel workers, prosecutors say” mentioned that suspected identity thieves and their supposed co-conspirators were indicted for allegedly using stolen credit card information to purchase airline tickets. These tickets are believed to have been sold on the U.S. black market at steep discounts to airline passengers.

A July

The "Asset Search News Roundup: January 26, 2009 " mentioned that Heartland Payment Systems was subjected to what might have been the biggest credit / debit card information theft in the U.S.  Mr. Albert Gonzalez was ultimately indicted for that privacy law violation / computer intrusion and other ones.  In fact, Mr. Gonzalez pleaded

An August 25 Newsweek article mentioned that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had fallen prey to identity thieves after Mr. Bernanke’s wife had her purse stolen.  One of the people believed to have been responsible for that identity theft is Clyde Austin Gray, Jr.  Mr. Gray had conspired to commit identity theft nationwide, according to

Albert Gonzalez was arrested in the Southern District of Florida on May 8, 2008 pursuant to this warrant:

Click On The Arrest Warrant To Enlarge It

The arrest arose out of Mr. Gonzalez’s alleged computer hacking / identity theft scheme which was later outlined in a May 14, 2008 New York superseding indictment.  This superseding indictment in U.S.A. v. Yastremskiy, et. al., 08-cr-00160, claimed that Mr. Gonzalez and his co-defendants had stolen credit card information through computer intrusions at Dave & Busters, Inc. restaurants.  Mr. Gonzalez and / or his co-defendants were accused of violating federal laws including but not limited to: conspiracy (18 U.S.C. §371); fraud related to computers (18 U.S.C. §1030); wire fraud (18 U.S.C. §1343 ); access device fraud (18 U.S.C. §1029); aggravated identity theft (18 U.S.C. §1028A); etc.

Almost three months after the superseding indictment was filed against him in New York, Mr. Gonzalez was next indicted in Massachusetts.  According to the August 5, 2008 Massachusetts indictment in U.S.A. v. Albert Gonzalez, 08-cr-10233, Mr. Gonzalez had hacked computers which stored credit card information for BJ’s Wholesale Club, DSW, OfficeMax, Boston Market and others.

Like the New York superseding indictment, the Massachusetts indictment accused Mr. Gonzalez of: conspiracy (18 U.S.C. §371); fraud related to computers (18 U.S.C. §1030); wire fraud (18 U.S.C. §1343 ); access device fraud (18 U.S.C.§1029); and aggravated identity theft (18 U.S.C. §1028A).  The Massachusetts indictment also essentially asserted that Mr. Gonzalez had hidden the proceeds of his hacking / identity theft scheme by money laundering through multiple jurisdictions.


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Identity theft can play a role in white-collar crimes ranging from money laundering to tax fraud.  Perhaps most interesting are the schemes which share identity theft and money laundering as common elements, like the one mentioned at "A Tax Fraud & Identity Theft From Miami".  Identity theft and money laundering are similarly