A Cincinnati businessman needed to pay his lawyers. He received an email to wire the money to an entity that called itself “Palm Beach Barbie”. While it’s obvious that he shouldn’t have, he did wire this money. When his law firm came asking for payment, he insisted that he’d already paid them.
Anthony Harris Jr., a Palm Beach County man, is now facing charges that he misdirected funds, laundered it through a series of Florida casinos, and then spent most of it on a spending spree. He is charged with money laundering and theft of over $100,000.
The victim, Benjamin Nwankwo, is a Nigerian immigrant who has been in the United States for over 35 years. Nwankwo, like so many other Americans, is struggling with business due to the coronavirus pandemic. He told reporters that a loss of $120,000 could put him under.
Other Charges Could be Forthcoming
At present, the PBSO does not know how Harris Jr. got Nwankwo’s information in the first place. But if evidence emerges that he hacked into an email account or otherwise trespassed on Nwankwo’s digital property, he will face charges for that as well.
What Palm Beach officers know is that Harris and another woman, who worked at a hair salon, set up a fake bank account that listed the hair salon as the addressee. The woman is not being charged for this crime, however. PBSO officers said that they will not file charges, but did not otherwise offer information as to why that would be the case. If this woman was indeed a knowledgeable co-conspirator she could face several of the same charges that Harris does.
The most damning evidence against Harris is video footage taken from ATMs. Harris was caught on video taking money from the fake bank account using an ATM card. The unnamed woman was caught on video with him. There was over $160,000 in the bank account, $120,000 of which belonged to Mr. Nwankwo.
The two then set up credit card accounts. Harris moved at least some of Nwankwo’s money into the credit card account and took it back out as a means of laundering it.
Analyzing the Charges
Both of these charges depend on the value of the money stolen and laundered. Because that number is greater than $100,000, Harris stands to spend considerable time behind bars. Money laundering of an amount over $100,000 is considered a second-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Theft of more than $100,000 is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a serious crime, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to discuss your situation and its possible remedies.