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A Florida man was sentenced today in federal court to 48 months in prison for his role in laundering the proceeds of scams against American consumers and businesses to co-conspirators located in Nigeria.

According to court documents, Niselio Barros Garcia Jr., 50, of Winter Garden, was part of a network of individuals who laundered proceeds of fraud from romance scams, business email compromises and other fraud schemes. Garcia supplied bank accounts to his co-conspirators for the purpose of receiving proceeds from the scams. After he received the proceeds, Garcia used a cryptocurrency exchange to conceal and transfer the funds in Bitcoin to co-conspirators in Nigeria.

Business email compromises involve criminals hacking or spoofing business email accounts to initiate fraudulent money transfers. Romance scams involve fraudsters creating fake online personas to gain the trust and affection of victims, leading to financial exploitation. These schemes not only cause significant financial losses, but also deeply impact the lives of victims.

Garcia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in the Southern District of Florida in January. According to Garcia’s plea agreement, Garcia personally laundered over $2.3 million of criminal proceeds. As part of his sentence, Garcia was ordered to forfeit $464,923.91 in proceeds that he personally received from the offense, and to pay $575,079.80 to victims in restitution. Four additional defendants have been charged in this scheme but remain at large.

“This case demonstrates the department’s continued commitment to prosecuting transnational fraud and those who knowingly facilitate it,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “By facilitating the concealment of illicit profits, third-party money launderers enable large-scale transnational fraud schemes. This case underscores the department’s commitment to protecting consumers and disrupting the infrastructure that makes these crimes lucrative.”

The FBI Buffalo Field Office investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Lauren M. Elfner and Matthew Robinson of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting the case.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has experienced financial fraud, experienced professionals are standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This Justice Department hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, can provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with inappropriate agencies and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. English, Spanish and other languages are available.

More information about the department’s efforts to help American seniors is available at its Elder Justice Initiative webpage at www.justice.gov/elderjustice. For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.reportfraud.ftc.gov/or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Justice Department provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office for Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.

Updated April 23, 2024

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