VANCOUVER — Four executives of a Vancouver-based payment processing firm have been charged in what the U.S. Justice Department alleges was part a massive fraud scheme designed to mislead victims into falsely believing they would receive large amounts of cash or valuable prizes.
Many of the alleged victims who paid fees were expecting to receive cash, prizes or specialized psychic services, says a Justice Department statement.
"The defendants are charged with enriching themselves by helping fraudsters who took money from elderly and otherwise vulnerable victims," assistant attorney general Jody Hunt for the department's civil division says in the statement.
"The U.S. Department of Justice will seek to hold accountable those who knowingly advance elder fraud schemes, including individuals outside our borders who enable fraudsters to move their ill-gotten gains into the banking system and benefit from their crimes."
Conspiracy, money laundering and mail and wire fraud charges were announced Thursday by the department against the four, who it says were partner owners and top managers of PacNet Services Ltd.
The department alleges the firm was "the payment processor of choice" for companies that mailed large volumes of fake notices to allegedly lure victims.
Roseanne Day and Robert Davis were part owners and top managers of PacNet, while Genevieve Frappier and Miles Kelly worked in the marketing or compliance departments, the Justice Department says.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. None of the four accused, their lawyers nor the company could be reached for comment.
The charges were filed in the Nevada.
The statement alleges that Day was in charge of PacNet's Vancouver headquarters and Davis oversaw the company's office in Shannon, Ireland.
The indictment alleges the defendants knew that many mass-mail clients were sending fraudulent notifications to consumers in the U.S. and around the world, and that the defendants made about $15 million each from 2013 to 2015, the last three years the company was in operation.
The indictment alleges PacNet served as the middleman between banks and the mailers, aggregating the cheques, cash and credit card payments collected by its clients, deposited the payments into bank accounts it controlled, and then distributed the funds as directed by the clients.
Vancouver police say in a news release that the department began investigating PacNet in October 2016 after a request for assistance from U.S. law enforcement.
"PacNet allegedly laundered millions of dollars for international companies as a payment processor," Supt. Cita Airth said in the release. "These companies were set up as fronts for individuals and organizations engaging in mail fraud targeting elderly and other vulnerable victims."