(STL.News) – In El Paso, the federal grand jury indicted 39-year-old Allan Francisco Castrillo Bastos, a citizen of Costa Rica residing in El Paso, in connection with a scheme to steal over $1 million from dozens of unsuspecting individuals who believed they had won the lottery and had to pay a tax in advance of receiving their winnings. On Wednesday, Castrillo Bastos waived arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges contained in the indictment.
That announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer; Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Britton Boyd, El Paso Division; Special Agent in Charge Scott Redington of the Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System-Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection; and, Acting Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Erik P. Breitzke, El Paso Division.
A 13-count federal grand jury indictment charges the defendant with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, ten counts of wire fraud, making a false statement to obtain credit and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictment alleges that the defendant participated in, or caused, a series of fraudulent wire transfers between August 2018 and March 2019. The victims wire transferred funds to the defendant believing they won the lottery and needed to pay taxes before collecting any prize money. Subsequently, the defendant transferred the fraudulently obtained funds to accounts outside the U.S. As a result, Castrillo Bastos pocketed over $1 million from dozens of unsuspecting individuals. One of those victims was a resident in the Salem, NJ, area who lost approximately $170,000 to Castrillo Bastos.
Furthermore, the indictment alleges that in March 2019, Castrillo Bastos knowingly made a false statement on an application for renewal of a loan or line of credit with a financial institution. Castrillo Bastos misrepresented his income by failing to disclose that it was fraudulently obtained and he disguised the income as derived from the sale of Bitcoin.
The indictment also includes a notice of criminal forfeiture in which the government is seeking to forfeit proceeds derived from his scheme as well as a money judgment against Castrillo Bastos in the amount of $1,219,357.42.
Upon conviction, Castrillo Bastos faces up to 30 years in federal prison for making a false statement to obtain credit; up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the remaining counts. Castrillo Bastos remains on $75,000 bond following his arrest last week. No further court dates have been scheduled.
FBI, OIG-Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System-Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, and HSI are conducting this ongoing investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Johnston is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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