Money launderer sentenced to prison for role in stealing nearly $5M from Arizona victim
Jan 10, 2024, 8:00 PM
PHOENIX — An Arizona judge sentenced a Maryland woman to four years in prison for her role in laundering millions of dollars stolen through online scams, officials announced Tuesday.
Whitney Adams, 27, pleaded guilty to money laundering on May 16, 2023, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
She will have to pay $1 million in restitution to 17 victims, one of whom was an Arizonan who lost almost $5 million to online scams, the office said.
Adams and a co-conspirator, who also pleaded guilty to money laundering, worked with scammers who lured victims through online fraud, officials said.
“In some instances, the victims believed they were sending money to support an online romantic partner who falsely stated they needed to pay taxes and fees to release an inheritance or gold bars,” the office said.
How did they get away with laundering millions of dollars?
Adams and her partner in crime set up phony businesses and opened business bank accounts to hide the transfer of stolen funds, officials said.
Essentially, the two opened accounts specifically for laundering money cybercriminals stole through romance scams and other types of fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
Adams and her partner would pocket a fee before transferring the rest of the stolen funds to Ghana, officials said.
Overall, 106 victims sent a total of $4,437,604 to the money laundering accounts, according to the FBI.
One Arizona victim sent $1 million to accounts owned by Adams and her partner in crime, the office said.
“One Arizona victim lost nearly $5 million to the scams, sending over $1 million to Adams’ and her co-conspirator’s accounts and the remaining money to multiple other individuals,” the office said.
Adams’ co-conspirator, who was not named, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18.
The FBI investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Sue Feldmeier handled the prosecution.