Public Notices and Press Releases

Costa Rican National Sentenced to 97 Months for $2 Million Money Laundering Scheme

Esteban De Jesus Campos Chanto laundered funds from wire fraud schemes targeting elderly victims across the U.S.

A Costa Rican man residing illegally in the United States was sentenced to 97 months in prison today for laundering over $2 million from wire fraud schemes, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Esteban De Jesus Campos Chanto, 43, of Trenton, had previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Quraishi imposed the sentence in Trenton federal court.

Scheme Overview:

Between August 2019 and October 2021, Chanto was part of a Costa Rican-based money laundering conspiracy targeting elderly U.S. citizens. Conspirators would call seniors, convincing them to wire or mail money to Chanto under the pretense of needing to pay taxes or fees on lottery winnings or other supposed government obligations. Chanto collected over $2 million from these victims and funneled the majority to his co-conspirators in Costa Rica, retaining approximately $400,000 for himself.

Legal Consequences:

In addition to his prison term, Chanto was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $2.07 million in restitution.

Investigation and Prosecution:

The investigation was conducted by special agents from the FBI's Newark Division, Trenton Resident Agency, under Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy, and the FBI's Cleveland Division, Youngstown Resident Agency, under Special Agent in Charge Gregory D. Nelsen. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander E. Ramey and Ashley Super Pitts from the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

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