By Stella Lorence
BU News Service
BOSTON – Belgian native and Boston resident Hassan Abbas pleaded not guilty to one count of money laundering and two counts of unlawful monetary transactions in U.S. District Court on Monday.
Abbas, 62, allegedly created multiple shell companies and opened bank accounts for each company, according to the indictment. Abbas and a co-conspirator, who remains anonymous in the indictment, then compelled three Massachusetts victims to transfer money to these bank accounts through email “spoofing” tactics.
Two of the victims, a Brazilian couple residing in Framingham, received a “spoofed” email from someone impersonating their real estate attorney, according to the indictment. Following what he thought to be closing instructions for a property investment, the victim wired over $30,000 to the bank account of one of Abbas’s shell companies, according to the indictment.
“The third Massachusetts victim was allegedly the victim of a romance scam in which perpetrators create fictitious online personas to develop online romantic relationships with individuals in the U.S. and then leverage those relationships to obtain money and/or property,” read a Department of Justice press release.
Prosecutor Phillip Mallard made a motion for inquiry as to the source of the secured bond bail of $250,000 paid by Abbas to the Essex Superior Court prior to Abbas’s appearance in District Court.
“We have no information about how this $250,000 made its way into the country,” Mallard said.
Abbas’s son, Ali Abbas, was called to the witness stand to testify about the bail money. Ali Abbas testified that the money was transferred by Hassan Abbas’s parents from Lebanon.
Abbas was released on bail. He is to remain at his residence in Boston with GPS location monitoring and a curfew pending his next status conference on March 17.