Atlanta, Georgia - A dual Canadian and U.S. national was sentenced Wednesday to 140 months in federal prison for conspiring to launder tens of millions of dollars stolen in various wire and bank fraud schemes – including a massive online banking theft by North Korean cyber criminals.
Ghaleb Alaumary, 36, of Mississauga, Ontario, was sentenced after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering. As part of his sentence, Alaumary is also required to pay more than $30 million in restitution to victims and serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison sentence.
“International money launderers provide critical services to cybercriminals, helping hackers and fraudsters to avoid detection and hide their illicit profits,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Small and large companies, a university, banks and others lost tens of millions of dollars in this scheme. Alaumary’s sentence today reflects how seriously the Department of Justice considers the critical role that money launderers play in global cybercrime.”
“This defendant served as an integral conduit in a network of cybercriminals who siphoned tens of millions of dollars from multiple entities and institutions across the globe,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes for the Southern District of Georgia. “He laundered money for a rogue nation and some of the world’s worst cybercriminals, and he managed a team of co-conspirators who helped to line the pockets and digital wallets of thieves. But U.S. law enforcement, working in conjunction with its partners throughout the world, will bring to justice fraudsters who think they can hide behind a computer screen.”
“The sentencing of the defendant in this case speaks to the value of investigative collaboration across borders,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven R. Baisel of the U.S. Secret Service’s Atlanta Field Office. “In spite of the complicated, international nature of this criminal enterprise, the defendant and his co-conspirators were still brought to justice.”
“The defendant in today's case laundered millions of dollars in losses from companies, universities and banks,” said Assistant Director Calvin A. Shivers of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. “Today's sentence demonstrates that cybercriminals who launder illegitimate profits can't evade detection from the FBI and our law enforcement partners.”
“This case is an example of our relentless determination to hold criminals accountable no matter how sophisticated their crimes may seem,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Phil Wislar of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office. “The arrest and sentencing of cyber criminals like Alaumary, who feel safe hiding behind a computer screen, are only possible through persistent investigative efforts of the FBI and our close collaboration with our U.S. and international partners.”
According to court documents, Alaumary and his coconspirators used business email compromise schemes, ATM cash-outs and bank cyber-heists to steal money from victims and then launder the money through bank accounts and digital currency. He previously pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Georgia in two money laundering cases.
In the first case, which was filed and investigated in the Southern District of Georgia, Alaumary conspired with others who sent fraudulent “spoofed” emails to a university in Canada in 2017 to make it appear the emails were from a construction company requesting payment for a major building project. The university, believing it was paying the construction company, wired $11.8 million CAD (approximately $9.4 million USD) to a bank account controlled by Alaumary and his co-conspirators. Alaumary then arranged with individuals in the United States and elsewhere to launder the stolen funds through various financial institutions.
Weeks later, Alaumary arranged for a co-conspirator in the United States to make several trips to Texas to impersonate wealthy bank customers in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims’ accounts using the victims’ stolen personally identifiable information.
In the second case, which was transferred to the Southern District of Georgia from the Central District of California for his guilty plea and sentencing, Alaumary recruited and organized individuals to withdraw stolen cash from ATMs; he provided bank accounts that received funds from bank cyber-heists and fraud schemes; and, once the ill-gotten funds were in accounts he controlled, Alaumary further laundered the funds through wire transfers, cash withdrawals, and by exchanging the funds for cryptocurrency. The funds included those from a 2019 North Korean-perpetrated cyber-heist of a Maltese bank. Other victims of Alaumary’s crimes included banks headquartered in India, Pakistan and Malta, as well as companies in the United States and U.K., individuals in the United States and a professional soccer club in the U.K.
Alaumary is the fourth defendant in this investigation to plead guilty in federal court to fraud felonies and be sentenced in the Southern District of Georgia. In 2019, co-defendant Uchechi Ohanaka was sentenced to 125 months’ imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Jennal Aziz was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release; and Kelvin Desangles was sentenced to 57 months’ imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release.
The U.S. Secret Service investigated the case, with valuable assistance provided by its Global Investigative Operations Center, the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section; the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Khaldoun Shobaki of the Central District of California prosecuted the case.