Cypriot and Latvian banks were used to launder the embezzled money from Facebook and Google, as the fraudulent company who tricked the tech giants into making multimillion-dollar payments used banks from Cyprus and Latvia as the temporary destination of the wired payments.
A Lithuanian man said that he and his overseas organization were able to fool Google and Facebook into paying a total amount of $100 million in the course of their two-year operation. He pleaded guilty for his involvement in the scam and is now awaiting his sentencing.
He said that they asked the Calfornia-based tech giants for money through email. According to his guilty pleas, the organization with which he was previously a member of have sent Google, a global tech and search leader, and Facebook, one of the world’s most famous social networking platforms, fraudulent and fake invoices. Apparently, these invoices were good enough to make both tech companies believe its validity from 2013 to 2015, the Justice Department said.
According to the indictment filed in 2016 in the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, Evaldas Rimasauskas is a 50-year-old Lithuanian citizen who was part of a scam ring and a fraudulent company that maintains and controls bank accounts in Latvia and Cyprus.
“As Evaldas Rimasauskas admitted today, he devised a blatant scheme to fleece U.S. companies out of $100 million, and then siphoned those funds to bank accounts around the globe,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company is said to have been posing as Quanta Computer, a computer company based in Taiwan that has done business with Google and Facebook in the past.
Quanta Computer, with the main office in Taipei, is a computer company that manufactures notebook computers and other electronic hardware. It has done business with other huge tech companies including Apple, Dell, Lenovo, Blackberry, Verizon Wireless, Toshiba, and Cisco.
Quanta has extended its business into enterprise network systems, home entertainment, mobile communications, automotive electronics, and digital home markets. The company also designs, manufactures, and markets GPS systems, including handheld GPS, in-car GPS, Bluetooth GPS and GPS with other position technologies.
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It is unclear what kind of business transaction does the company has with Google and Facebook that has opened the gates for operations of Rimasauskas’ company.
According to the indictment, some of the money transfers happened in New York City and involved major banks.
“Rimasauskas thought he could hide behind a computer screen halfway across the world while he conducted his fraudulent scheme, but as he has learned, the arms of American justice are long, and he now faces significant time in a U.S. prison,” Mr. Berman added.
Rimasauskas agreed to forfeit $50 million of the total embezzled amount following his extradition from Lithuania to the United States in 2017. After his guilty plea last week, he is set to face the courts to be sentenced in July for the crime which bears a maximum of 30 years in prison.
The Lithuanian man insisted that he has only a minimum role in the entire operations. In his court appearance, Evaldas Rimasauskas admitted that he had knowingly participated in the operation which he also admits being fraudulent, but his role was simply to set up bank accounts to facilitate the said modus.
“I was asked to open bank accounts,” he reportedly said. “After that, I did not do anything with these accounts.”
In the statement made by the Justice Department, Rimasauskas “caused the stolen funds to be quickly wired into different bank accounts in various locations throughout the world, including Latvia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Hong Kong” after payments from the tech giants were wired to the bank accounts in Latvia and Cyprus. The statement also noted that he also aided in providing questionable and forged document to explain to banks the large transfers of money.
Mr. Rimasauskas was initially charged with five criminal counts that included identity theft and money laundering. But his lawyer, Paul D. Petrus Jr., insists that since his client presented a guilty plea, the rest of the four other charges should be dropped entirely.
In emailed statements on Sunday, Facebook said the company had “recovered the bulk of the funds shortly after the incident and has been cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation,” and Google said it had “detected this fraud and promptly alerted the authorities. We recouped the funds, and we’re pleased this matter is resolved.”
The other members of the organization that Rimasauskas was previously a part of remains unnamed until today.