Alleged $150M Payment Processing Scheme Included Debt Collection Transactions: Prosecutors

A quartet of individuals have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud in a $150 million payment processing scheme that included facilitating transactions for debt collectors, and one of the individuals remains at large, according to an indictment that was unsealed yesterday in Massachusetts federal court.

The individuals — Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, 49, of Los Angeles, California, Thomas Wells, 74, of Martin County, Florida, Mohammad “Moe” Diab, 45, of Glendale, California, and Amy Ringler Rountree, 38, of Logan, Utah — were executives of Allied Wallet, a payment processing company based in Los Angeles. The group were accused of facilitating debit and credit card transactions for high-risk businesses, including online gambling, debt collection, debt reduction, prescription drugs, and payday lending. Khawaja is a fugitive from a 2019 indictment that charged him with campaign finance violations and obstruction of justice.

The individuals allegedly made fraudulent misrepresentations to financial institutions, card brands, and others about the type of transactions that were being processed by the merchants using Allied Wallet. Some of the merchants were involved in in high-risk industries, while others had their accounts terminated for excessive chargebacks, fraud, or other compliance concerns. The conspirators created shell companies and fake websites to make it seem like they were selling low-risk goods and services and using codes that miscategorized the nature of the transactions. The scheme helped more than 100 merchants process $150 million in debit and credit card transactions.

Khawaja, Diab, and Rountree each worked for Allied Wallet, while Wells, through his company Priority Payout, introduced clients seeking payment processing, to Allied Wallet.

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