Athens woman accused of being ‘money mule’ in email scheme

Athens woman accused of being ‘money mule’ in email scheme
Wanda Barker (Source: Smith County Jail)

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A federal grand jury has indicted an Athens woman accused in her role of diverting money transfers into personal accounts.

Wanda Jackson Barker, 71, is charged with money laundering conspiracy and financial transactions in illegal proceeds. She was indicted on the charge out of the western district of North Carolina on Sept. 16. Court records show Barker was due for a court hearing on Nov. 9 but did not appear. A warrant for her arrest was filed that day and she was booked into the Smith County Jail on Friday.

According to the text of the indictment, Barker, Linda Dianne Johnson and Olayinka Agboola conspired to carry out a scheme to launder at least $575,000 in proceeds of a fraudulent business email compromise scheme.

The indictment defines a BEC as a type of computer-intrusion scheme in which the intruder gains access to the victim’s computer system and monitors the victim’s email accounts to determine large financial transactions are scheduled to take place. After the initial wiring instructions are made, the scammers send spoofed emails designed to appear as if they are coming from one of the parties instructing a change of plans to route the money to a different account.

The indictment states BEC fraudsters need bank accounts controlled by others to receive the misdirected wire payments. These individuals are often called “money mules” and they open bank accounts into which the diverted funds are deposited. Once the scheme is successful, the money mules funnel the stolen money to specified accounts, but retain a portion of the total funds.

The indictment states Barker acted as one of those money mules.

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