Laundering cash from healthcare, romance scams lands US man in prison for a decade

$4.5M slushed through accounts from state healthcare and lonely people

Georgia resident Malachi Mullings received a decade-long sentence for laundering money scored in scams against healthcare providers, private companies, and individuals to the tune of $4.5 million.

The Department of Justice initially brought charges against the 31-year-old back in February 2022, accusing him of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Mullings pleaded guilty to eight charges in January of last year. His sentencing took place yesterday, per the DoJ.

According to the feds, Mullings' helped clear the financial tracks of a scheme that ran from 2019 to July 2021 and consisted of both business email compromise (BEC) attacks and romance scams, with the former aimed at healthcare entities, among other biz, and the latter at ordinary citizens.

BEC scams rely on social engineering the cash out of organizations, usually by impersonating a higher-up at the org or a business partner, and then requesting that funds be sent to a bank account controlled by the attacker. Mullings defrauded private companies and healthcare providers, including one state Medicaid program that gave him $310,000, a sum intended to reimburse a hospital.

Mullings also processed money defrauded from folks in romance scams, a classic social engineering con trick, with "numerous individual victims" falling prey, according to the DoJ. Many of the victims were elderly, who tend to be lucrative targets for many scammers due to their relatively high vulnerability as well as having retirement cash. The feds say Mullings and his co-conspirators engaged in financial transactions designed to conceal the fraud proceeds, which included $260,000 taken from a single victim, which they say Mullings used to buy a Ferrari. He also bought jewelry and other luxury items.

Purchasing a high-end car was apparently not just an indulgence, but also served as a way to launder ill-gotten gains, according to the original charges brought in November 2022 by the DoJ, which charged nine other suspects alongside Mullings – seven from Georgia, one from South Carolina, and one from Virginia. At least one of the suspects is thought to have been acquitted.

Of the defendants, including Mullings, six were alleged to have defrauded healthcare entities such as Medicaid and Medicare, while the other four were alleged to have scammed other public programs or private companies outside of the field of healthcare.

"Unwittingly, five state Medicaid programs, two Medicare Administrative Contractors, and two private health insurers allegedly were deceived into making payments to the defendants and their co-conspirators," the DoJ claimed.

Mullings is said to have used 20 bank accounts in the name of his company, The Mullings Group, to launder his profits, which appear to be some of the largest any of the suspects were accused of making. Though naming his shell company after himself might have been a bad move if he wanted to disguise his criminal enterprise. ®

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