TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A Florida man has pleaded guilty to being part of a multi-state money laundering scheme that extended into East Texas.

Perry Lewis Crenshaw, 27, entered his plea into federal court on Friday. Out of the six people charged in the case, Crenshaw is the fifth to plead guilty.

In August, a Tyler woman named Tracey Brookshier also admitted in court to being part of the case. Crenshaw will have to pay restitution in excess of $1.2 million.

According to information presented in court, in 2015, Crenshaw was contacted by a co-conspirator about partnering in a business venture. As part of the venture, Crenshaw was asked to pick up money from call center sales at money services businesses in the Pensacola area.

Crenshaw picked up roughly $40,000 from money services businesses and deposited the funds into a bank account. He was also directed to create a business called “Network Florida LLC” in June 2015.

“Moving money on behalf of scammers helps facilitate the underlying criminal fraud, and ultimately contributes to the victimization of the public. Those that help launder the ill-gotten gains of these fraud schemes are subject to significant criminal penalties. The public needs to know that we will pursue not only the thief directly responsible for the fraud, but also the enablers who help these scammers profit from their predatory behavior.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei

Crenshaw opened bank accounts in the name of the business and recruited approximately 20-25 people as employees. The job responsibilities for them consisted of merely picking up cash or money orders at money services businesses and depositing the funds into the Network Florida bank accounts.

He was paid 10% of these funds. From June 2015 to October 2016, approximately $1,284,649 in fraudulent proceeds was deposited into the Network Florida accounts.

From February to July 2016, Crenshaw transferred approximately $266,106 in fraudulent proceeds from the Network Florida bank accounts to a foreign bank account. He later admitted that it became apparent the conspiracy was fraudulent and the purpose of the scheme was to conceal and disguise the nature of the proceeds generated by the scheme.

“Investigating scammers is a top priority for IRS Criminal Investigation. Mr. Crenshaw preyed on vulnerable elderly Americans by impersonating the IRS. We found him, and now he and his co-conspirators will be held accountable for their heinous crimes.”

Special Agent in Charge Brian Payne

According to the indictment, the conspirators allegedly claimed to work at call centers and got money from victims by claiming either Social Security numbers had been suspended due to suspicious activity or that the victims owed back taxes.

The callers claimed that either situation could be rectified by payment of some amount. Those payments allegedly went into accounts owned by the defendants.

The Justice Department said the scheme involved more than 4,000 victims who paid more than $3.2 million to the conspirators. 

Crenshaw has yet to be sentenced in the case. Per federal law, he is facing up to 20 years in prison.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).