In a recent development, Duane Dufrene, a 55-year-old resident of Kenner, Louisiana, has pleaded guilty to conspiring with five other individuals to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Court documents reveal that Dufrene and his accomplices used shell corporations to defraud a Georgia-based merchant cash company. They created fake vendor accounts and falsified bank records to obtain funding, resulting in overall losses of approximately $6.4 million for the victim. Dufrene is facing a maximum sentence of five years for the wire fraud conspiracy and up to twenty years for the money laundering conspiracy. His sentencing is scheduled for November 29, 2023.
Kenner Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Money Laundering
In a recent criminal case, Duane Dufrene of Kenner, Louisiana, has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Working with several co-conspirators, Dufrene used shell corporations to defraud a merchant cash company based in Georgia. The scheme involved the creation of fake vendor accounts and falsified bank records to obtain funding, resulting in losses of approximately $6.4 million. Dufrene is awaiting sentencing and faces a maximum sentence of five years for wire fraud conspiracy and up to twenty years for money laundering conspiracy.
Wire fraud and money laundering are serious criminal offenses that involve the manipulation of financial systems and the use of deceitful schemes to illegally obtain funds. These crimes not only harm the victims who suffer financial losses, but they also undermine the integrity of the financial industry as a whole. The case against Duane Dufrene exposes the extent of such criminal activities and serves as a reminder of the importance of enforcement efforts to combat fraud and money laundering.
Duane Dufrene’s guilty plea demonstrates his acknowledgment of his involvement in the crimes of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. By pleading guilty, Dufrene accepts responsibility for his actions and paves the way for legal proceedings and sentencing.
Plea to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
Dufrene’s guilty plea includes a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charge stems from his involvement in a scheme to defraud a merchant cash company based in Georgia. Alongside his co-conspirators, Dufrene used shell corporations and falsified vendor accounts and bank records to obtain funding through advances from the victim company.
Plea to Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering
Dufrene’s guilty plea also includes a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering. As part of the fraud scheme, Dufrene and his accomplices laundered a portion of the funds received from the merchant cash company. They accomplished this by funneling money to themselves from the shell corporations and closing their non-existent businesses before fully repaying the victim company. The overall losses incurred by the victim amount to approximately $6.4 million.
Several individuals were involved in the conspiracy alongside Duane Dufrene. It is essential to identify these parties to understand the full extent of the fraudulent activities.
Duane Dufrene, a resident of Kenner, Louisiana, is the central figure in the criminal case. Dufrene played a key role in orchestrating the wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
Ryan Mullen collaborated with Dufrene in establishing shell corporations and creating fake vendor accounts and falsified bank records. Mullen also posed as a broker for the shell companies and supplied the victim cash advance company with the fraudulent documentation to secure funding.
Dillon Arceneaux, Lance Vallo, Grant Menard, and Zeb Sartin
These individuals were identified as the owners of the shell corporations involved in the fraud scheme. They played an active role in laundering a portion of the funds obtained and closing their non-existent businesses.
Use of Shell Corporations
The use of shell corporations was a crucial component of the fraudulent scheme orchestrated by Duane Dufrene and his co-conspirators. They employed various tactics to create the appearance of legitimate businesses while concealing their true intentions.
Creation of Shell Corporations
Dufrene, Mullen, and their associates established shell corporations in Louisiana. These corporations were intentionally devoid of assets and existed solely to carry out the fraudulent activities.
Fake Vendor Accounts and Bank Records
To deceive the victim cash advance company, Dufrene and Mullen created fake vendor accounts for the shell corporations. They also falsified bank records to provide a semblance of financial stability and credibility.
Representation as Broker
Ryan Mullen assumed the role of a broker for the shell companies, falsely representing himself as a legitimate intermediary between the companies and the victim cash advance company. This misrepresentation aimed to enhance the perceived credibility of the shell corporations.
Obtaining funding through fraudulent means was the primary objective of Duane Dufrene and his co-conspirators. They employed a multi-step process to secure advances from the victim cash advance company.
Supplying Fake Vendor Accounts and Bank Records
Ryan Mullen, assisted by another broker, supplied the victim cash advance company with the fraudulent vendor accounts and falsified bank records. These documents were designed to create the illusion of legitimate business transactions and financial stability.
Approval of Advances
The victim cash advance company approved the advances based on the fraudulent documentation provided. The company, unaware of the deceit, initiated the wiring of funds to the shell corporations.
Wiring of Funds
ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN, acting on behalf of the shell corporations, received millions of dollars in advances through electronic wire transfers. These funds were the result of the successful execution of the fraud scheme.
Money laundering played a significant role in the fraudulent activities led by Duane Dufrene and his co-conspirators. The laundering process allowed them to conceal the origin of the ill-gotten funds and benefit personally from the scheme.
Laundering of Funds
ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN engaged in money laundering by diverting a portion of the fraudulently obtained funds to Mullen and Dufrene. These illegal payments enabled the key orchestrators of the fraud scheme to profit from their criminal activities.
Payment to Mullen and Dufrene
As part of the money laundering process, ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN made payments to Ryan Mullen and Duane Dufrene, effectively distributing the ill-gotten funds among the conspirators.
The criminal activities of Duane Dufrene and his co-conspirators resulted in significant financial losses for the victim cash advance company. The scale of the losses highlights the severity of the wire fraud and money laundering scheme.
Closure of Non-existent Businesses
After receiving the fraudulently obtained funds, ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN closed their non-existent businesses. This action further obscured their identities and made it more difficult for the victim company to recover the funds.
Overall Losses of $6.4 million
The victim cash advance company suffered total losses of approximately $6.4 million as a result of the fraud scheme. This substantial sum underscores the financial damage inflicted by the criminal activities of Dufrene and his co-conspirators.
If you have any information or questions related to wire fraud, money laundering, or other financial crimes, it is crucial to reach out to the appropriate government services. Contact the following agencies for assistance:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): Visit their official website at FBI.gov or contact them directly for more information.
- Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI): For matters involving financial crimes, including money laundering, visit IRS.gov or reach out to their Criminal Investigation division for assistance.
These agencies have the expertise and resources to investigate financial crimes and pursue justice for victims. If you have relevant information, do not hesitate to report it to the appropriate authorities.
In conclusion, the guilty plea of Duane Dufrene in the wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy case serves as a reminder of the prevalence and damaging effects of financial fraud. The collaboration between Dufrene and his co-conspirators highlights the sophisticated measures taken to deceive both financial institutions and victims. Such criminal activities underscore the importance of strong enforcement efforts and the need for individuals and businesses to remain vigilant against fraud and money laundering.