A Kalispell woman who allegedly ran a “money mule” business to launder the money she collected from perpetrators of various wire fraud schemes in exchange for a commission has been charged in a 30-count indictment in U.S. District Court in Montana.
Theresa Anne Chabot, 57, pleaded not guilty May 5 at an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court in Missoula, where she is charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, conspiring to commit money laundering, 17 counts of money laundering-promotion and 11 counts of money laundering-spending.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided over the hearing and agreed to release Chabot on conditions pending further proceedings.
According to the indictment, Chabot conspired through others and through her business, Avalanche Creek, LLC, an unregistered money transmitting business, to operate as a money mule relating to various wire fraud schemes in the United States from May 2016 to February 2021. The wire fraud schemes included advance pay schemes, internet-enabled frauds, investment schemes, romance schemes, lottery and sweepstakes frauds and COVID-19 funding fraud.
A money mule is a person who transfers illegally acquired money for other individuals. Money mules receive a commission for providing their services.
The indictment further alleges that during the scheme, Chabot opened more than 50 bank accounts, collected the proceeds from the wire fraud schemes and then transmitted the money overseas. Banks closed numerous accounts after reviewing the activity and at least 15 banks directly informed Chabot the accounts were being closed because of fraud, in violation of bank policies and other identified misuse.
Despite repeated account closures, Chabot opened new bank accounts that enabled her to receive proceeds from fraud schemes with victims located in the United States. Chabot received a fee, which in many instances totaled approximately 10% of the fraudulent proceeds deposited into her bank accounts. Chabot would then forward the remaining funds overseas, including to Dubai.
Chabot faces a maximum of 20 years in the Montana State Prison, a $500,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
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