A 32-year-old man who used a telephone scheme to con victims into sending him and his associates money was arraigned in a Brooklyn, N.Y. court where he pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Hani Kabbara, aka “The Mayor,” enticed victims, particularly the elderly, to send hundreds of thousands of dollars via an age-old telephone scam: In this case, Kabbara informed his targets that a loved one had been arrested and money was needed to get a grandchild out of jail.
Kabbara's sophisticated operation attempted to disguise itself through the use of encrypted chats and phony online identities between February 2014 and August 2016.
The enterprise would seek payment in the form of MoneyPaks – vouchers that can be loaded with cash and subsequently used to pay for prepaid debit cards, the DoJ statement said.
Kabbara is then accused of selling the MoneyPaks on underground forums or, along with his co-conspirators, transferring the funds onto prepaid debit cards obtained using stolen identities. A crew working in the New York area would then withdraw funds from the debit cards and send the funds back to Kabbara, who resided in Canada.
Kabbara will be sentenced on July 6. He faces 20 years in prison.