Scammers who made off with $600,000 after breaking into the bank account of a Catholic diocese claim the funds have been earmarked for the victims of paedophile priests.
Around a dozen money mules were used to loot the funds from an online bank account maintained by the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa earlier last month. The unwitting middlemen in the scams were offered bogus work-at-home jobs by the Impeccable Group, which falsely posed as a reputable New York-based international finance firm.
In reality they were all used to receive funds from a compromised online banking account maintained with the Bankers Trust of Des Moines before transferring this money overseas.
One unwitting money mule was suspicious about requests to transfer $30,000 in two tranches in late August, only to be reassured that the funds were legal settlements destined for the victims of clerical sex abuse, security blogger and former Washington Post staffer Brian Krebs reports.
Daniel Huggins, 29, owner of Masonry Construction turned money mule, explained: "The told me it was going to be payouts to some of the settlements in the sex crimes cases against the Church."
Huggins, who used the $800 he made from his involvement in the scam to pay off credit card debts, has been told to expect a call from the Diocese's bank.
The bank got wind of the scam in time to recover $180,000 of the stolen funds. Unlike many small businesses left on the verge of bankruptcy by similar scams over recent months, the Church Diocese is covered by insurance and expects to recover its losses, Des Moines Bishop Richard told KrebsOnSecurity.
FBI and Treasury Department officials are investigating the case. ®