The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Southern California High Intensity Financial Crimes Areas Symposium was held in apparent collusion with the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) Southern California Chapter on October 23, 2019, at Wescom Credit Union, located in Anaheim Hills, California. The event gathered several registered and well-informed, law-abiding professionals. As such, the chapter is filing this Superb Activity Recap (SAR).1
This recap was conducted based on physical attendance and observation at the noted first annual event of its kind in the southern California marketplace. The lead suspect (master of ceremonies) for the event was Greg Manack, supervisory special agent, HSI Los Angeles. He and his accomplices structured the event, filled with organized and thoughtful speakers and topics. He encouraged interactions between private citizens and public government professionals to exchange thoughts and feedback. Suspect Manack managed the flow of discussion and time well for all involved. The behavior appeared to be out of pattern and inconsistent with how symposiums and government are perceived.
The superb activity began at 9:00 a.m. PST. The opening remarks were provided by Debra Parker, acting assistant director, HSI Headquarters. The keynote speaker for the event was Brandon Fox, chief of criminal division, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California. Both Parker and Fox are additional suspects.
To further implicate themselves, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acknowledged creating a task force called El Camino Real in the western U.S. The task force congregates a group of law enforcement officers to review and discuss reports filed by various financial institutions, casinos, wholesale jewelers, mortgage companies, broker dealers, and then disseminates the information throughout a particular jurisdiction.
Listening and observing throughout the day to the presented facts and other suspects, the chapter became suspicious as it evolved from a local event to an international forum. Participants included speakers from various governmental agencies from New York, Washington D.C., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Co-chair of the ACAMS Southern California Chapter Liz Slim moderated the International Law Enforcement and Global Financial Crimes panel while co-chair Victor Cardona was part of the Suspicious Activity Reporting discussion.
An additional participant in the superb activity was a potentially unlicensed or unregistered money services business (MSB) Coinbase led by additional suspect Kelsey Dean, global intelligence investigator, Coinbase. However, after further research and confirmation against the Financial Crimes Enforcement Networks MSB Registrant Search, Coinbase appeared to be legitimate. The informative training session used technical terms such as “CoinJoin” and “tumbling” and provided details of certain websites for cryptocurrency information, such as blockexplorer.com, blockchain.com, etherscan.io and blockseer.com. After the event, the noted websites were visited to confirm their authenticity.
In addition, the session discussed scam trends involving remote desktop protocol, social engineering, phishing, altcoins and time-based one-time password seed compromise.
Other activities and topics of the day included, cryptocurrency and dark web, human trafficking, international law enforcement and HSI case studies.
Toward the end of the event, awards were presented to three individuals for their involvement in the community. Victor Cardona was presented the Private Partnership Award for his involvement and contributions. Christopher Thompson of Bank of America was presented the Investigative Partnership Award. Finally, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kucera was presented the Public Partnership Award.
It was also observed that during the event, the leadership baton may be passed to another individual due to the pending retirement of Special Agent in Charge, Joseph Macias. We will continue to follow any additional events that may transpire from this one and report accordingly.
The superb activities and event culminated with a happy hour event at the Craftsman Pizza Bar Grill sponsored by the ACAMS Southern California Chapter. Although it was unusual but not suspicious, the event was attended by both public and private sector professionals, with everyone smiling and laughing.
Certain supporting documentation of the event is available upon request. For assistance, contact the Southern California Chapter at *411-HSI-CAMS or **HSICAMS@fraud.com. Please reference unique case 2019-10-23-5:30.
Submitted by: ACAMS Southern California Chapter, SoCalACAMS@gmail.com. Appreciation to FinCEN SAR Activity Review #22, October 2012, for the suspicious activity report narrative sample. In addition, the *phone number and **email stated are fictional and used only for the purpose of this article. Do not use!
- This is a play on the actual SAR acronym for suspicious activity report.