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Texas man sentenced for role in scamming Massachusetts, California, Florida, Canada residents of over $1.1 mill



BOSTON – A Texas man was sentenced on June 13, 2023, in federal court in Boston for operating an illegal money transmitting business that laundered the proceeds of international investment and romance fraud schemes.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Justice, 28-year-old Charles Ochi of Grand Prairie, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. Ochi was also ordered to pay forfeiture of $141,021 and restitution, which will be determined at a later date. On April 12, 2023, Ochi pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy, one count of conspiring to conduct an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

In or about 2016, Ochi organized and led a group of money transmitters that laundered over $1 million in proceeds from fraud schemes. Some of these fraud schemes purported to offer trading and Bitcoin investing services when, in fact, investor funds were stolen, and later victims’ investments were used to pay purported returns to earlier investors. Ochi recruited at least five individuals in Texas and Maryland to join his operation and directed them to use bank accounts to receive fraud proceeds and then to withdraw and transfer the money to numerous other persons, often by cashier’s check or through electronic transfers. Ochi also engaged in illicit currency exchange business activity, in which he, a co-conspirator, and others exchanged fraud proceeds for Nigerian Naira on the black market.

In total, the scheme laundered over $1,168,000 from at least 123 victims of investment and romance fraud schemes in Massachusetts, California, Florida, and Canada.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Christopher DiMenna, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Jennifer De La O, Director of Field Operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Boston Field Office made the announcement. Assistance was provided by the Division of Enforcement at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kriss Basil of Levy’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.

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