HAMPTON — A Colombian woman has pleaded guilty to her role in an email takeover scam that stole thousands of dollars from a Hampton business in 2017.
Karina Henao entered a plea to one count of federal wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids on Nov. 5.
She faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing will be at a later date.
Authorities allege Henao, who has been living in Florida, was part of a group that infiltrated the email of a Buresh Building Systems official after sending a bogus request to reset a password.
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With access to the email, the group diverted $87,400 from the company’s accounts to the bank account of a Florida company called K Henao Elite Inc. that Henao oversaw.
Investigators with Immigration and Customs Enforcement determined Henao operated accounts that received money from companies in other states that had been hit with a similar email scheme. Money was later moved from those accounts to banks in China, and Henao allegedly took a cut for herself, according to court records.
Other victims who wired money to Henao’s accounts include a Minneapolis company that sent $83,000, an Oregon company that sent $208,000 in three transactions, and a Washington business that sent $73,105.
Henao’s plea agreement states she acted with willful blindness about the operation and had been put on notice but chose to remain deliberately ignorant about the money. She allegedly told an investigator there was something “really shady” about the transfers.