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BOSTON – A Kenyan national pleaded guilty today in connection with her role in a fraud conspiracy involving romance scams targeting individuals in the United States.

Florence Mwende Musau, 36, a Kenyan national previously residing in Canton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled sentencing for Oct. 14, 2021.

On March 25, 2021, Musau and five others were charged in connection with their roles in online scams that are alleged to have collectively defrauded victims of more than $4 million.

According to the charging documents, Musau participated in a series of romance scams designed to defraud victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by her and others. Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim. To carry out the schemes, Musau used fake passports in the names of numerous aliases to open bank accounts in and around Boston to collect and launder the proceeds of the romance scams. She then executed large cash withdrawals from those accounts, often multiple times on a single day and generally structured in amounts less than $10,000, in an effort to evade detection and currency transaction reporting requirements.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud provide for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, restitution, and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Joshua McCallister, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and Jonathan Davidson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Stearns of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case. 

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

 

DAR ES SALAAM, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Tanzania's Zanzibar President Hussein Mwinyi has invited businessmen from east Africa and beyond to put up heavy investment on the Islands that will help drive the blue economy.

Mwinyi said Zanzibar is open for heavy investment in diverse sectors of the blue economy, including deep-sea fishing, ports infrastructure, marine transport, petroleum and gas, and tourism, said a statement issued on Saturday by the East African Community (EAC).

President Mwinyi made the appeal during a CEO Evening Roundtable Engagement dinner on EAC regional integration organized by the East African Business Council on Friday night.

In his address read on his behalf by Zanzibar's Second Vice-President Hemed Suleiman Abdalla, President Mwinyi said: " Zanzibar also requires heavy investment in modern agriculture, real estate and conference tourism."

"Investment in these sectors will spur business within the East African Community in addition to increasing national revenue and improving the lives of the people of Zanzibar," said Mwinyi.

He said that Zanzibar had been a centre of maritime and international commerce for centuries with merchants from the Islands proving their worth in regional and global markets.

Peter Mathuki, the EAC secretary general, said Tanzania and Kenya, two members of the EAC, have huge potential for investment in the blue economy with shorelines on the Indian Ocean. Other member states of the EAC are Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. - Xinhua

 

Three money launderers have been sentenced after £5.1 million in “dirty cash” was found under beds, in cupboards and dumped on the floor of a flat.

The money, the Met’s largest single cash seizure, was discovered when lockdown stopped it being taken out of the country.

Police said it was stacked up at the Fulham flat because the gang “didn’t know what to do with it”.

It was found when undercover officers swooped on Ruslan Shamsutdinov, 36, as he struggled to put heavy bags into a car outside the luxury Porteus Apartments last June.

The holdalls contained cash linked to Sergejs Auzins, 46, a Russian middleman working for gun and drugs syndicates across London.

Officers raided the gated mews and recovered £5,082,000 that at least 10 gangs had been unable to clean due to lockdown restrictions, Harrow crown court heard.

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Detective Superintendent Jason Prins said his team accidentally stumbled across the Fulham flat during a long-running operation into firearms and Class A drugs supply.

He said: “This is the largest ever single cash seizure by the Met and I believe one of the largest ever nationally.

“In the flat, there was money everywhere you went — under the beds, in cupboards and on the floor. They couldn’t even hide it. It was a money laundering hub for a number of crime groups.”

A further €39,000 and £8,000 was discovered at Uzbekistan national Shamsutdinov’s home in Glenister Road, Hackney.

Money launderers Ruslan Shamsutdinov, 36; Sergejs Auzins, 46; Serwan Ahmadi, 35 (Metropolitan Police)
Money launderers Ruslan Shamsutdinov, 36; Sergejs Auzins, 46; Serwan Ahmadi, 35 (Metropolitan Police)

Five weeks later, detectives observed their accomplice, Serwan Ahmadi, 35, handing over a bag to a fourth suspect in north London.

Within hours, Met Specialist Crime officers arrested Ahmadi in Victoria Road, Edmonton, along with £59,980.

A search of the Iranian’s home in nearby Pycroft Way uncovered £198,600.

The following day, July 15, 2020, Auzins was detained at his house in Windward Road, Rochester, where another £14,435 was seized — bringing the total to nearly £5.4 million.

Det Supt Prins added: “Covid had really exacerbated their problem of how to get rid of money.”

On Friday, Shamsutdinov was jailed for three years and nine months, Auzins, three years and four months, and Ahmadi, received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to conceal and disguise criminal property.

The seized cash will eventually fund Met and Home Office operations to tackle violent crime.

Astonishingly, Det Supt Prins said of the Fulham apartment believed to be worth £900,000: “We still haven’t established who actually owns it.

“Organised crime is motivated by money and is one of the biggest causes of violence on our streets. Tackling this violence is our main priority.”

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