Alabama man admits to money laundering as part of $2.3 million e-mail fraud scheme

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

An Alabama man admitted in federal court Tuesday to money laundering charges related to a $2.3 million email fraud scheme, federal prosecutors said.

Robert Carlton Howard, 39, of Vestavia Hills, pleaded guilty Tuesday to laundering approximately $2.3 million in illicit funds derived from business email compromise schemes targeting American businesses, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples.

Howard pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Madeline H. Haikala to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to the plea agreement, from July 2021 through August 2021, Howard was part of a scheme that used fake email accounts designed to “spoof” or impersonate companies’ third-party vendors.

The fake email accounts were created to trick those companies into wiring large amounts of money into Howard’s bank accounts.

Howard received approximately $2.3 million in business email compromise proceeds within two days. Howard immediately transferred the funds into a Kraken cryptocurrency exchange account in the name of IBS.

A series of transfers were made from the IBS Kraken account to several other cryptocurrency wallets controlled by co-conspirators based in Nigeria.

Of the approximately $2.3 million Howard received and transferred, he retained and spent approximately $210,000 as compensation for his role in the scheme.