MISSOULA - A Kalispell woman accused of operating a money mule business in which she collected money from various wire fraud schemes around the United States and then sent the funds overseas for a fee has admitted to the charges, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Theresa Anne Chabot, 57, pleaded guilty to unlicensed money transmitting businesses. Chabot faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
A plea agreement filed in the case recommends that 29 other counts charged in an indictment be dismissed at sentencing, that Chabot be responsible for complete restitution estimated by the government at approximately $5.2 million and that Chabot forfeit a 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe.
The government alleged in court documents that from about May 2017 until February 2021, Chabot, through her business, Avalanche Creek, LLC, collected money from various wire fraud schemes around the United States into her bank accounts. When doing so, Chabot operated as a money transmitting business and was required to register Avalanche Creek with the Department of Treasury.
The government further alleged that Chabot opened more than 50 bank accounts. Banks closed numerous accounts after reviewing the activity, and at least 15 banks directly informed Chabot the accounts were being closed due to fraud, violation of bank policies and other misuse.
Despite the repeated bank account closures, Chabot would open new bank accounts that enabled her to receive proceeds. Chabot received a fee, which in some instances totaled approximately 10% of the proceeds deposited into her bank accounts. Chabot would then forward the remaining funds overseas, including to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. A sentencing date was set for Jan. 5, 2023 before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation.