4 executives of Vancouver's PacNet Services charged in international mail fraud scheme
Company allegedly acted as the middleman for scammers targeting elderly and vulnerable victims
Four executives with a Vancouver payment processing company have been charged in the U.S. with several crimes linked to their alleged roles as middlemen in a massive international mail fraud scheme.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced charges Thursday against PacNet Services owners Rosanne Day, 51, and Robert Paul Davis, 63, as well as senior managers Genevieve Renee Frappier, 49, and Miles Kelly, 55.
"The defendants are charged with enriching themselves by helping fraudsters who took money from elderly and otherwise vulnerable victims," assistant U.S. attorney general Jody Hunt said in a news release.
"The United States 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."
Each of the four executives is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and multiple counts of mail fraud and wire fraud.
Each of the charges carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
The Justice Department alleges that Day and Davis each earned about $15 million between 2013 and 2015, the last three full years the company was active. Day was in charge of PacNet's Vancouver office, while Davis oversaw the branch in Shannon, Ireland.
PacNet stopped doing business on Sept. 22, 2016. The company is aware of the indictment but disagrees with it, according to Day, one of the PacNet Services owners.
"The indictment is factually flawed and PacNet and its employees intend to fight the charges and prove their innocence," she said in an e-mail to CBC News.
She says the company never knowingly processed payments for a fraudulent mailing and stands by its compliance program.
Alleged victims were elderly and vulnerable
The charges come nearly three years after the U.S. Treasury Department designated PacNet and 12 individuals connected to the company as a "significant transnational criminal organization."
That designation was lifted in 2017, but company officials have said the announcement "obliterated" PacNet.
The new indictment from the Justice Department says PacNet knowingly processed payments for companies that mailed out notices falsely claiming the recipients would receive large prizes, cash or psychic services if they paid a fee.
PacNet allegedly collected the payments from victims, who were often elderly or vulnerable, and deposited them into bank accounts it controlled, before distributing to the clients. U.S. attorneys say numerous people in Nevada were victims of the scheme.
Davis, who is also a pilot, allegedly opened post offices boxes in the U.K., where certain payments would be sent. He allegedly flew the mail back to Ireland, where it was opened and the cheques or cash would be processed.
The indictment alleges that Davis also flew to the Netherlands to pick up other payments.
The criminal investigation into PacNet was led by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with help from the Vancouver Police Department, the Canadian Competition Bureau, Ireland's Criminal Assets Bureau, the United Kingdom's National Crime Agency, and the Netherlands' Fiscal Information and Investigation Service.