A man who admitted collecting more than $800,000 from seniors he tricked into sending virtual money orders to help distressed relatives has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison, according to the Florida Sun Sentinel. The man converted the virtual money orders from some of his victims into bitcoin.
Stephan Moskwyn, 33, pled guilty to money laundering in federal court in Miami, Fla. Police arrested the 33-year-old Canadian citizen in October to await sentencing.
Call Center Aided The Scam
Police said Moskwyn laundered money obtained by a Canadian call center that preyed on elderly U.S. residents since 2014. Homeland Security investigators said the call center employees phoned people throughout the U.S. and posed as relatives, mainly grandchildren, who said they were in a jail or a hospital and needed funds urgently.
The victims were told to send money orders that were cashed in Chile, the Dominican Republic, and other countries, according to prosecutors.
The call center employees told some victims to send virtual money orders known as “Moneypaks” that they converted into bitcoin.
Moskwyn used complex financial transactions, using pre-paid debit cards and money orders in the U.S., to convert some virtual money orders into bitcoin. Prosecutor Michael Berger said bitcoin transactions are difficult to track, according to court records.
Witnesses cooperating with the investigators met with Moskwyn in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in Florida last year when he was visiting the area.
He used some pre-paid debit cards that he bought with the victims’ money to purchase money orders at a Broward County Publix store early last year.
A ‘Grandma Scam’
In February 2015, a witness recorded Moskwyn saying he knew the money was fraudulently obtained from a “grandma scam.”
Moskwyn said the scammers were so convincing that some victims sent more money than requested and followed instructions on forwarding the funds.
Police arrested Moskwyn in October during a layover at the Miami International Airport when he was en route to Chile from the Dominican Republic.
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