Santa Rosa Police Announce Arrests in Connection with Alleged $7.8 Million Money-Laundering, Telephone Scam Operation

Santa Rosa Police Announce Arrests in Connection with Alleged $7.8 Million Money-Laundering, Telephone Scam Operation
(Photo: Stock / Unsplash)
Originally published by the Santa Rosa Police Department:

In September 2022, the Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) received a request for assistance from a detective in West Deptford, New Jersey, related to a scam investigation affecting a citizen in their jurisdiction. The detective tracked funds stolen from their victim and determined a person in Santa Rosa, California, had withdrawn a small portion of those funds (approximately $1,000) from an involved bank account.

Detectives from the Santa Rosa Police Department Property Crimes Investigation Team (PCI) agreed to assist the investigator and served a search warrant at the subject’s residence on November 15, 2022, in the 2100-block of Meadowbrook Court, Santa Rosa. During the service of the search warrant, detectives contacted and arrested 23-year-old Santa Rosa resident Anthony Chand.

Detectives learned Chand was working with three additional co-conspirators within the Santa Rosa area to commit extensive money laundering throughout Sonoma County. Evidence suggested Chand and his co-conspirators were willingly conspiring with an overseas scam call center to launder stolen money through an elaborate scheme before sending it back overseas. Evidence located included extensive financial records, bank receipts, and cell phone evidence tying Chand to his co-conspirators.

With this new evidence, detectives identified a second involved suspect and served a search warrant at his residence on November 15, 2022, within the 4000-block of Arthur Ashe Circle. The search revealed the residence served as a significant hub of the operation, with an entire bedroom consisting of white boards with victim information on it and dozens of cell phones on charging banks. Each cell phone was affixed with post-it notes with details of identity theft victims’ personal identifying information. The primary suspect residing at the Arthur Ashe Circle address was identified as 21-year-old Santa Rosa resident, Alexander King Knigge.

During the search warrant, $80,000 cash was seized from a hidden safe in the residence. Other evidence located during the search warrant supported that Knigge had spent victim money to purchase an Audi sedan and several expensive Rolex watches, which were also seized.

The warrant service provided detectives with a small understanding of the scheme. Evidence suggested that Knigge was keeping stolen victim funds, which he had laundered or was actively laundering, in several bank accounts which were subsequently frozen. A total of $275,000 of victim money was frozen in Knigge’s bank accounts. Investigators later learned that Knigge was in Hawaii at the time of the search warrant service, attempting to purchase a property using money stolen through scams. For the next several months, PCI detectives served dozens of search warrants to 26 different financial institutions targeting over 150 bank accounts created or used by Knigge in furtherance of his scheme, as well as numerous online service providers, to obtain a better understanding of the crimes being committed.  From that investigation, detectives obtained the following understanding of Knigge and his co-conspirator’s scheme to launder illicitly obtained money:

The numerous victims from throughout the United States, many of whom were elderly, were contacted by call centers overseas, likely based out of India. Those victims were scammed by a variety of tricks, ruses, and strategies. These scams included false personation of law enforcement to trick citizens into paying money to settle outstanding warrants or overdue taxes, “Norton Lifelock” scams, computer virus scams, and remote bank account hacking through tricks or elaborate schemes. The victims were ultimately convinced or tricked into completing wire transfers to bank accounts being controlled by Knigge in Santa Rosa.

As part of the criminal enterprise, Knigge constantly created new bank accounts with the names and information from identity theft victims located throughout the country which he likely obtained online. Detectives identified nearly 100 victims of identity theft victimized by Knigge and interviewed many of them.

Once money was received by Knigge in the bank accounts, he and his co-conspirators worked quickly to launder the funds out of the accounts to avoid banks freezing the funds. To accomplish this and avoid law enforcement detection, Knigge used a plethora of strategies and relied heavily upon his co-conspirators, who he routinely called “employees,” to launder the funds. The intent of money laundering is to conceal the origin of illegally obtained money by “cleaning” it through a variety of financial transactions to convert it into legitimate funds, such as profits from a business.

Knigge’s co-conspirators assisting him in committing identity theft and money laundering, were identified as Chand, 21-year-old Healdsburg resident Brileigh Blosser, and 22-year-old Santa Rosa resident Calvin Valledor.

Once the money was laundered, evidence suggests that Knigge kept a portion, paid his co-conspirators a small amount for helping launder the money, and sent the remaining scam victim money overseas, presumably to the original scammers.

Property Crimes Detectives combed through vast amounts of financial records and completed a forensic accounting of the associated money laundering. Detectives determined this group laundered more than $7.8 million in 2022.

Through a remarkable effort, detectives worked backwards and identified victims throughout the country that were scammed into sending money to Knigge. Upon their identification, investigators worked with law enforcement agencies throughout the country to make necessary police reports and start investigations from the source with the ultimate goal of returning some of their lost funds recovered through this investigation.

The Property Crimes Investigations Team has worked collaboratively with allied law enforcement agencies from throughout the United States, and the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office throughout the investigation as evidence and reports were presented and criminal complaints were prepared.

In November 2023, detectives obtained arrest warrants for Knigge, Blosser, and Valledor, with judicial bail approval set at $1 million for the following charges:

Alexander Knigge:

  • 182(a)(1) PC – Conspiracy
  • 186.10(a) PC – Money Laundering
  • 186.10(c)(1)(b) PC – Money Laundering > $150,000
  • 186.10(c)(1)(c) PC – Money Laundering > $1,000,000
  • 186.11(a)(1) PC – Aggravated White Collar Crime Enhancement
  • 530.5(c)(3) PC – Identity Theft with 10+ Victims
  • 368(d) PC – Elder Abuse

Brileigh Blosser and Calvin Valledor:

  • 182(a)(1) PC – Conspiracy
  • 186.10(a) PC – Money Laundering
  • 186.11(a)(1) PC – Aggravated White Collar Crime Enhancement
  • 530.5(c)(3) PC – Identity Theft with 10+ Victims

Anthony Chand’s initial arrest charges were also amended to coincide with those of Blosser and Valledor.

During the investigation, it was discovered that Knigge and Blosser moved to Reno, Nevada.  On November 22, 2023, detectives from the SRPD PCI and Narcotics Teams completed surveillance of Knigge and Blosser as they traveled to Sonoma County from Reno, Nevada.  They were both contacted and arrested by detectives in the 3100-block of Lakeville Highway in Petaluma.

On November 27, 2023, detectives located the last remaining suspect in the case, Valledor.  Valledor was contacted and arrested during a traffic stop in the 2100-block of West Steele Lane.  After his arrest, detectives served search warrants at two of his associated addresses, the 9400-block of Lazy Creek Drive in Windsor and the 2900-block of West Steele Lane. During the warrant service on West Steele Lane, detectives seized two illegal rifles possessed by Valledor.  Due to the rifles’ characteristics, Valledor was arrested for the outstanding warrant and for violation of 30605(a) PC, possession of an assault rifle and 33215 PC, possession of a short-barreled rifle.

This investigation was extremely complex and involved hundreds of hours of dedication from the SRPD Property Crimes Investigations Team.  Although many questions have been answered through the investigative process, it remains an open and ongoing investigation.

Detectives are seeking anybody who can provide additional information on this money laundering operation committed by Knigge, Blosser, Chand, and Valledor, and request they contact Detective Tim Gooler or a Property Crimes Detective at (707) 543-3575.

Santa Rosa Police Announce Arrests in Connection with Alleged $7.8 Million Money-Laundering, Telephone Scam Operation was last modified: December 8th, 2023 by admin
Categories: National News, Sonoma