A man from South Florida is now on the run after doing the unthinkable. The suspect is tied to Hezbollah and reportedly funneled $94 million from scams to the terror group. Roda Taher is now on the run and believed to be overseas to avoid prison time in the United States.
Taher was arrested eight years ago for cashing fake checks via shell companies he created. This was a small time scam that appears to be just the start for Taher. According to a recent report about the new charges:
“Taher is a fugitive on new and more serious charges. He’s wanted for directing more than a dozen “money mules” in a $94 million internet scheme in South Florida that law enforcement sources say he used to finance Hezbollah, the radical Muslim group based in Lebanon. It is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization and has been linked to bombings and killings of Israelis and other Western targets in the Middle East.”
The first time Taher was arrested, he did the dirty work himself. He had set up the fake companies and ran them into the ground. This time around he was using money mules to create a more extensive network. These mules opened up fake companies with very real bank accounts. The accounts were then used to deposit checks from fake lottery winnings and other scams. The network of accounts also made moving money around easier.
Shell company accounts were also used to hide money from internet based hacking scams and inheritance scams. One of these scams included contacting those who have lost a family member as a company that helped to manage and settle estates. Another example of a scam included stealing bank account information online through phishing emails and draining accounts. The larger network made it possible to keep one step ahead of banks and the police.
While the scams started in Florida, the money was sent all over the world to keep it moving. This included banks in Germany, China, and the United Arab Emirates. The final stop was in the Middle East to support terrorist organizations.
Taher was not alone in his efforts. He turned this into the family business as his wife is also a part of the scam. Haanan Jaafar is wanted alongside her husband. She is being charged with money laundering and overseas bank fraud in the case. The pair is thought to be in Beirut.
The husband and wife team are among a total of 15 people currently wanted in connection with the scams out of Florida. Federal authorities have made ties to terrorist groups but officially did not mention any one group. The link to larger terrorist groups was inferred by a large part of the investigation.
There are some who point to the fact the couple is known to be small time scammers, and this may be yet another example of that. Given the fact that this case has netted $94 million in funds that went to the Middle East this is not a small time hustle.
According to Emanuele Ottolengh, who is an expert in the field of counter-terrorism, this idea is just false. Ottolengh shared:
“Little scammers in Miami don’t wire $94 million to foreign bank accounts in places like China and Hong Kong. It’s very plausible to see this as a larger scheme for funding Hezbollah.”
The current investigation has unearthed countless business ventures in Florida. The couple was able to use thousands of dollars to pay for new business licenses and also trick those working with them into thinking the businesses were in fact legit. This included telling investors they were shipping and exporters, and other kinds of retail shops.
These new companies would them be used to front the long-running internet scams like the phishing email that tells residents they have won the lottery. This is usually a game out of the country, and they need to pay fees to get the massive payout. Many people are willing to pay out $500 to secure an account that they are being told will net millions. By the time they figure out the lottery was a scam their money is long gone.
It is amazing to see that this type of scam can bring in 94 million dollars at $500 or $1000 at a time. At least while they are on the run, the pair is not able to continue their work.