A Lithuanian man who tricked Google and Facebook into transferring more than $ 100 million to accounts he controlled has pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Evaldas Rimasauskas, 50, sent fraudulent invoices to California-based tech companies between 2013 and 2015, according to the US Department of Justice.
He was involved in running a company that controlled multiple accounts at banks in Latvia and Cyprus, according to a 2016 indictment filed with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Rimasauskas and his anonymous associates were posing as Quanta Computer, a Taiwan-based computer hardware company that did business with Facebook and Google, Reuters reported.
Mr Rimasauskas pleaded guilty to wire fraud in Manhattan federal court, where Judge George B Daniels set a sentencing date for July 24.
The charge could result in up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 1 million or double the proceeds of crime.
Mr Rimasauskas’ plea deal with prosecutors said he faced almost certain deportation once his prison term was over.
In a statement on Wednesday, Geoffrey S Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: Bank accounts around the world.
Some of the money transfers involved banks in New York City, according to the indictment.
“Rimasauskas thought he could hide behind a computer screen halfway around the world while he carried out his fraudulent scheme, but as he learned, the arms of American justice are long, and he now risks a lot of time in a US prison, ”Berman added. .
Mr. Rimasauskas was extradited from Lithuania to the United States in 2017. He agreed to lose around $ 50 million, court documents show.
After his guilty plea last week, he faces up to 30 years in prison. He is expected to be sentenced in July.
During a court appearance, Mr Rimasauskas said he knowingly participated in a fraud and that his role was to open the bank accounts to facilitate the scheme, Bloomberg reported.
“I have been asked to open bank accounts,” he reportedly said. “After that, I didn’t do anything with those accounts.”
After the money was wired from tech companies to bank accounts in Cyprus and Latvia, the Justice Ministry said in its statement, Cyprus, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary and Hong Kong.
The statement added that it also helped provide banks with forged documents to explain large money transfers.
Mr. Rimasauskas was initially charged with five counts, including identity theft and money laundering.
But after last week’s guilty plea of wire fraud, the remaining four counts are expected to be dismissed at sentencing, said his attorney, Paul D Petrus Jr.
“Mr. Rimasauskas was far from being a major player in this affair,” said Mr. Petrus, adding that he did not know of any other person who had been charged in connection with the scheme.
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In statements emailed Sunday, Facebook said the company “recovered most of the funds shortly after the incident and cooperated with law enforcement in its investigation.”
Google said it had “detected this fraud and quickly alerted the authorities. We have recovered the funds and are pleased that this matter is resolved.
According to the FBI, crimes involving deceiving businesses by email have become more common – and much more sophisticated – in recent years, resulting in billions of dollars in losses.
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