A man from Reston, Virginia, is accused of helping scam more than a million dollars from businesses across the country using hacked or fraudulent emails.
Federal investigators said Patrick Allen Womble helped scam eight businesses out of at least $1.3 million from September 2020 through April 2021 using a business email compromise scheme.
The businesses were located throughout the U.S., ranging from Florida, Virginia, New York and Wyoming. They were usually construction or real estate-related firms.
According to court documents, the businesses financial divisions or controllers were contacted by either a hacked email from one of their vendors or an email that was similar to the vendor’s. The emails would request payment for a recent service and send the firm new account information in order to wire the funds.
The account information was actually one of four opened by Womble at four different banks, investigators said.
Womble would then pull the money quickly out of the accounts through “purchases of cashier’s checks, high dollar amount cash withdrawals, rapid and successive ATM withdrawals, and multiple transfers through mobile payment services such as Cashapp. Cash withdrawals are often used to buy virtual currency,” according to the arrest warrant.
Some of the money has been recovered, but hundreds of thousands of dollars remain missing.
In an interview with the FBI, Womble said he had been solicited by an unknown person on Google Hangouts to open the accounts. He was also directed by the person to send the money via cashiers check or virtual currency to other accounts.
He told investigators he “did not know the people from whom he received money or the people to whom he sent money,” according to court documents.
Womble has been charged with laundering of monetary instruments. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
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