3 arrested, 1 at giant in alleged bank card fraud

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BOSTON (AP) — Federal investigators arrested three people Thursday on fees of conspiring to deceive banks into allegedly processing greater than $150 million in credit score and debit card funds on behalf of retailers concerned in prohibited and high-risk companies, together with on-line gaming, debt assortment, debt aid, on-line prescription drugs and payday lending. A fourth particular person stays at giant.

Two of the people — Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, 49, of Los Angeles and Thomas Wells, 74, of Martin County, Florida — have been charged with wire fraud conspiracy.

Two others — Mohammad “Moe” Diab, 45, of Glendale, California, and Amy Ringler Rountree, 38, of Logan, Utah — have been charged with wire fraud conspiracy and financial institution fraud conspiracy.

Diab, Rountree and Wells have been arrested Thursday and can seem in federal court docket in Boston at a later date, investigators mentioned. Khawaja was charged in a December 2019 indictment with marketing campaign finance violations and obstruction of justice. He stays a fugitive.

A 2018 investigation by The Related Press confirmed Khawaja’s firm helped pornographers, shady debt collectors and offshore gamblers entry the worldwide banking system, usually through the use of dummy international companies and faux web sites to disguise the underlying enterprise.

The reporting was primarily based on hundreds of inner firm information obtained by the AP.

Khawaja was the proprietor and chief government officer of Allied Pockets, Inc., a fee processing firm headquartered in Los Angeles that served retailers doing enterprise over the web. Diab served as chief working officer and Rountree was the vp of operations, in keeping with the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in Massachusetts.

Allied Pockets obtained entry to providers that enabled them to just accept debit and bank card funds over international digital fee networks run by Visa, Mastercard, American Categorical, Uncover and different playing cards.

The corporate served as an middleman between service provider purchasers and monetary establishments. Wells, by his firm, Precedence Payout, launched service provider purchasers looking for fee processing to Allied Pockets.

Investigators allege the 4 engaged in a scheme to defraud the cardboard manufacturers and others by fraudulently inducing them to supply fee processing providers to retailers engaged in prohibited or high-risk transactions, in addition to to retailers that have been terminated for fraud, chargeback or different compliance considerations, by knowingly misrepresenting the forms of transactions the retailers have been processing and the true identities of the retailers.

The defendants allegedly created shell firms, designed faux web sites that presupposed to promote low-risk retail and residential items and used industry-standard codes that miscategorized the true nature of the transactions, investigators mentioned, finally fraudulently acquiring greater than $150 million in fee card processing by greater than 100 sham retailers.

The information obtained by The AP confirmed the corporate did so whereas Khawaja, Allied Pockets and prime executives contributed not less than $6 million to Democratic and Republican candidates and teams. The donations earned Khawaja entry to Hillary Clinton in the course of the presidential marketing campaign and a post-election Oval Workplace go to with Donald Trump.

The cost of wire fraud conspiracy brings with it a sentence of as much as 20 years in jail and a fantastic of $250,000. The cost of financial institution fraud conspiracy offers for a sentence of as much as 30 years in jail and a fantastic of $1 million.

Khawaja didn’t return a message despatched to his e-mail handle at Allied Pockets. A name to Allied Pockets was not answered.

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