A Ghanaian national pleaded not guilty in federal court on Wednesday to stealing approximately $2.4 million from the Republican Party of Wisconsin in a wire fraud scheme.
Paul Williams Anti, 59, was charged in February with embezzlement, according to online court records.
According to court documents, crooks manipulated the email accounts of state GOP employees to divert funds intended for vendors to the crooks’ bank accounts. Williams Anti allegedly controlled two of these accounts.
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A cybersecurity firm that the state GOP hired to investigate discovered that an employee’s email account had been altered so that any message containing the words “invoice”, “wire transfer” or “bank” was automatically moved to an email folder that crooks could access.
The scammers then increased the amount charged along with the recipient’s account information, then sent the messages to another GOP employee. This worker unknowingly sent the money to fraudulent accounts, according to court records.
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Court documents do not name the state’s GOP as a victim. But a party spokesperson confirmed to the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesday that the party was involved.
The US Department of Homeland Security arrested Williams Anti in New York in February. He had 30 pieces of identification under nine different names, Assistant US Attorney Meredith Duchemin said Wednesday.
US Magistrate Stephen Crocker ordered Williams Anti to remain in custody, calling him a flight risk. He noted that Williams Anti had family in Ghana and the UK.
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“If I let him out, he would be gone in 60 seconds,” Crocker said.
Williams Anti faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
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