Former Saratoga County resident pleads guilty to money laundering conspiracy | USAO-NDNY
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Christopher L. Vandermark, 57, formerly of Gansevoort, New York, pleaded guilty today to participating in a money laundering conspiracy to conceal the proceeds of a fraud scheme at multi-state unemployment insurance.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Carla B. Freedman and John Pias, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General (DHS-OIG ).
In pleading guilty, Vandermark admitted to corresponding via text message online for more than a year with a person who identified as a woman living in North Carolina. The woman asked Vandermark to open accounts at several financial institutions and provide her with the routing details of her existing accounts. From June 2020 to early April 2021, Vandermark’s accounts received transfers of more than $88,000 in fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits from six states. Vandermark purchased hundreds of gift cards from local retailers using the benefits, photographed the ID numbers on the cards, and sent the photographs to the woman. The ID numbers could be used to sell the gift cards online in an effort to disguise the original source of the funds.
Vandermark admitted to receiving several warnings from financial institutions that his actions were promoting a fraudulent scheme. Additionally, on April 15, 2021, a federal law enforcement officer and a state investigator questioned Vandermark at his residence about approximately $37,000 in unemployment insurance benefits fraudulently obtained and transferred to his account in a local bank. Vandermark denied holding the account and having received the funds. Both statements were false. Following the interview with law enforcement, Vandermark opened another account with a financial institution and received an additional $13,734 in tri-state benefits across two accounts, which he used to purchase no more gift cards until July 2021. As before, he photographed the gift cards and sent the photos to the woman.
Vandermark admitted liability for $13,734 in benefits laundered through his accounts after the interview with law enforcement on April 15, 2021. He agreed to compensate the affected states.
Vandermark’s money laundering conspiracy conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000 and a period of supervised release of up to 3 year. Vandermark is scheduled to be sentenced on October 27, 2022 by U.S. Senior District Judge Gary L. Sharpe. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular law the defendant is accused of breaking, US sentencing guidelines, and other factors.
The matter was investigated by DHS-OIG, with assistance from the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the New York State Comptroller’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Chisholm.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the complaint form NCDF online at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.