CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal jury has convicted Pierre Yvelt Almonor, 49, of Miami Gardens, Florida, for his role in a conspiracy to launder illegal proceeds from a business email compromise scheme that defrauded law firms and other companies of more than $1 million, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Almonor was convicted of engaging in a money laundering conspiracy to commit concealment money laundering, international concealment money laundering, and transactional money laundering.
Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
A business email compromise scheme, or BEC, is a sophisticated scam, often targeting businesses involved in wire transfer payments. The fraud is carried out by fraudsters compromising and/or “spoofing” legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques, to cause employees of the victim company or other individuals involved in legitimate business transactions to transfer funds to accounts controlled by the scammers.
According to trial evidence, witness testimony and documents filed with the court, from August 2014 through November 2017, as part of the money laundering conspiracy, Almonor arranged to have nearly $395,000 in real estate closing proceeds stolen through a BEC deposited in a business account over which he exercised control, utilizing it as a “money mule” bank account. Money mule bank accounts are accounts used by fraudsters as a pass-through means of moving fraudulently obtained funds. Almonor then facilitated wires to Spain and South Africa totaling more than $200,000 and withdrew more than $50,000 in proceeds as compensation for his role in the conspiracy.
Almonor remains on bail pending sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the proceeds.
Ugo Ernest Uzomba previously pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maria K. Vento and Matthew T. Warren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.