US Treasury moves on firm with Irish links
The US Department of the Treasury has moved against an international group of companies, which has operations in Ireland, designating it a "significant transnational criminal organisation".
It alleged the PacNet Group has been clearing cheques for clients who were scamming older and vulnerable people.
These PacNet clients included alleged psychics, fraudulent lottery organisations, and fake sweepstakes.
In total, a global network of 12 individuals and 24 entities across 18 countries were designated as part of a transnational crime organisation.
The Department of the Treasury has frozen all US property and interests in property of those companies.
Individuals from the US have been prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
Many of the Irish companies listed are based in Co Clare.
In a statement outlining its action, the US agency listed PacNet's Irish-registered associates.
A number of named individuals, registered as directors of the Irish companies, were on the list.
"PacNet has knowingly facilitated the fraudulent activities of its customers for many years," John E Smith, acting director of the government agency's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said.
"Today's designations are aimed at shielding Americans and the nation's financial system from the large-scale, illicit money flows that are generated by these scams against vulnerable individuals," he added.
The individuals and companies were targeted for allegedly materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support to PacNet.
They were also targeted for being owned or controlled by other people designated as part of the action.
"Despite PacNet's prior acknowledgement and the many notifications it has received regarding the fraudulent activity of its clients, PacNet continues to knowingly process cheques on behalf of numerous companies that are actively involved in widespread mail fraud campaigns," the agency said.
According to the agency, PacNet has been operating for 20 years and in the last year alone processed payments for more than 100 different postal fraud campaigns, totalling tens of millions of dollars.