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Money laundering, fraud charges for California surrogacy scheme

Federal law enforcement officials have zeroed in on one California woman for her supposed role in a $2 million white collar crime scheme. The woman operated a surrogacy agency that served people in California and around the world. According to federal investigators, the woman deceived clients by steering them toward using an escrow and financial firm that she owned and operated.

Apparently the woman encouraged her clients who were utilizing her agency's surrogacy services to make their payments through what appeared to be an independent financial company. This company would hold the clients' money and pay the fees associated with the surrogacy. Allegedly, the woman created false identities for employees at the financial company to make it appear as though it was a fully-staffed, independent entity.

Reports also claim that the woman used money from the two companies to fund personal expenses. Apparently, company funds were improperly used to purchase jewelry, vehicles and other lavish items.

After a probe was conducted, the woman was charged with multiple federal white collar offenses. Most recently, a federal grand jury indicted the woman on "seven counts of wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, nine counts of bank fraud and 10 counts of money laundering." Knowing the sheer number and magnitude of the crimes she is accused of, this California woman has a tough legal battle ahead.

If the woman is convicted on all the charges she faces, she could spend up to 60 years in federal prison and pay nearly $2 million in fines. As is the case here, federal crimes often carry consequences that are more severe than violations of state laws.

According to the charges, the woman willfully treated the funds paid to the financial firm as legitimately obtained and used them to make payments, which is why she has been hit with several money laundering charges. This is a prime example of the lengths federal investigators will go to in order to gather evidence to secure a conviction. Their investigation did not turn-up a massive conspiracy, but targeted an individual person.

In order to defend against the string of white collar crimes, an independent investigation into the allegations could prove invaluable to the woman's defense. This inquiry could uncover inconsistencies in the evidence procured by federal prosecutors.

Source: The Modesto Bee, "Modesto woman accused of fraud in surrogate parenting scheme," Rosalio Ahumada, April 20, 2012

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