Attorney General Rutledge Sues a Hot Springs Woman Operating as a Money Mule in Multi-Million Dollar Jamaican SchemeWed, Feb 19, 2020
Says, ‘Jean Butler was and has always been an active, willing participant in this fraudulent money mule scheme’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit today against a Hot Springs woman who facilitated a multi-million dollar international sweepstakes scheme. The complaint alleges that Jean Butler, 73, is funneling fraudulently obtained funds through numerous bank accounts to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica.
“Jean Butler was and has always been an active, willing participant in this fraudulent money mule scheme,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Money mules like Butler who help scammers take advantage of Arkansans and people across the country must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
In these types of schemes and in this particular case, the operators, who are often in foreign countries, contact potential victims and say they have won a jackpot or lottery but must first pay taxes or fees before receiving the prize. The victims are instructed to send this payment to a person in the U.S., commonly referred to as a “money mule,” like Butler. The money mule opens bank accounts and deposits money received from these victims. The operators then withdraw those funds for themselves. In Butler’s case, investigators estimate she opened numerous bank accounts and facilitated the transfer of about $6 million to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica. The victims, usually seniors or other vulnerable persons, never received the promised prize and discover all too late that the money they sent to the money mule is gone.
Butler is accused of acting as a money mule since 2017 in a scheme purporting to be the “Mega Millions” lottery. After opening bank accounts, Butler would inform the bank that she would be traveling out of the country that way avoiding raising suspicions about the foreign transactions. Banks would eventually suspect fraudulent activity and close the accounts. Butler would then open an account in another bank and continue the activity.
Investigators determined that Butler was aware of her actions and complicit in her involvement in the scheme. The various victims of this scheme are reportedly from throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, alleges that Butler violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and seeks restitution for affected consumers, civil penalties and an injunction prohibiting Butler from further participating in this or any other scheme. The lawsuit also requires her to cooperate with any additional law enforcement investigations into the scheme. Any person who violates the ADTPA may be subject to civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation. The Attorney General’s Office coordinated this effort with the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The recruitment of money mules is on the rise, often deceptively advertised as “work from home jobs” or “online jobs”, and appear to be attractive options for the elderly or college students to make money easily. It is common for those who participate in money mule activity to not even be aware they are facilitating an illegal operation. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be a victim of money mule activity, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email email@example.com or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Launches Annual 75-County Tour in Ft. SmithFri, Feb 14, 2020
Says, ‘meetings allow me the opportunity to hear directly from folks in their hometowns about issues faced by their communities’
FORT SMITH – Today, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge launched her Rutledge Roundtable of 2020 with community and business leaders in Sebastian County. The event kicked off her sixth consecutive year of hosting roundtable meetings in all 75 counties around the State.
“As I visit all 75 counties each year, these meetings allow me the opportunity to hear directly from folks in their hometowns about issues faced by their communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By meeting people where they live, we can work on real solutions immediately.”
Since taking office in 2015, Rutledge has hosted 384 Roundtables with over 4,300 participants. Each meeting has included officials from local businesses, local and State government, farmers, faith leaders, educators and representatives from various other industries.
In addition to the Roundtables, Rutledge had a record year in 2019 with 2,232 Arkansans visiting an Attorney General Mobile Office throughout the State, and 2020 is already on pace to exceed the record. The mobile office initiative was created in 2015 to provide a county-by-county location to personally assist consumers in filing consumer complaints and answer questions about the full range of services provided by the Attorney General’s Office. After the success of the initiative in 2015, Rutledge expanded to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes during each visit. The office collaborates with local law enforcement agencies across the State to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Since the addition of this service, the boxes have allowed authorities to properly dispose of nearly 620 pounds of expired or unused medications.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
Rutledge Releases Statement Following Federal Court’s Decision to Uphold Ending Arkansas Works RequirementsFri, Feb 14, 2020
Office will coordinate with federal officials to determine appropriate course of action
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued the following statement after the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to uphold vacating the Arkansas Works Medicaid Demonstration Project.
“I am disappointed in today’s decision and am reviewing and discussing next steps with the Department of Justice.
“The effect of this decision is that work and community engagement requirements cannot be enforced, and Arkansas must provide three months of retroactive coverage instead of the one month allowed under the Arkansas Works approval. Beneficiaries who did not comply with the work and community engagement requirements for three consecutive months in 2018 and were removed from the program remain eligible to reapply for coverage through the Medicaid expansion program.”
Rutledge: Child Abuse Public Service Announcement LaunchedFri, Feb 7, 2020
Says, ‘If something doesn’t seem quite right, say something’
LITTLE ROCK –Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released her public service announcement (PSA) on her YouTube channel addressing the warning signs of child abuse. One in every five children in Arkansas suffers abuse from family, friends or neighbors.
“Many of us were blessed to grow up in a loving home, but not every child does,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If something doesn’t seem quite right, say something, and save a child’s life.”
The Special Investigations Department (SID) of the Attorney General’s Office has statewide jurisdiction. These certified law enforcement officers are committed to protecting Arkansas’s children by investigating and arresting those who sexually exploit children online. SID is also a member of the Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and cooperates with federal, State and local law enforcement agencies.
The public service announcement can be viewed now on Rutledge’s YouTube page and will launch on air Sunday, February 9 during the Oscars. It can later be seen on various networks and cable stations throughout the State.
Arkansans who have questions can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
General Rutledge Applauds President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union AddressTue, Feb 4, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement regarding President Donald J. Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“Tonight’s address is further proof that President Trump has kept his promises. President Trump has posted historic economic advances through business growth and deregulation, appointed two talented jurists to the U.S. Supreme Court and signed outstanding trade deals that will continue to improve the quality of life for all Americans. After years of over-regulation stifling businesses, hard-working Arkansas families finally feel a greater sense of hope for the future and their children’s future. I look forward to working with the administration in 2020 to prioritize affordable healthcare that covers pre-existing conditions, establishing safe and legal immigration policies, supporting our military efforts around the world and continuing to solidify America’s place as a global powerhouse. I applaud President Trump’s strides in enhancing the American dream and support him in his efforts to come.”
General Rutledge Files Lawsuit Against Unlicensed Hot Springs Towing BusinessMon, Feb 3, 2020
Says, ‘Every time this illegitimate business is put to work, its customers are unknowingly put at risk.”
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit today against Classic 24 Hr. Towing & Recovery, a Hot Springs business for operating without a license, mandatory permits, vehicle registration or liability insurance. The owner, Paul Vujicic, advertises that his company has been in business for more than 40 years, yet evidence shows, it has never been properly licensed.
“Every time this illegitimate business is put to work, its customers are unknowingly put at risk,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas has these regulations in place for the safety and protection of both consumers and business owners.”
According to the complaint, Vijicic has been cited repeatedly by the Hot Springs Police Department for failure to register his towing vehicles, failure to have insurance, as well as safety and moving violations.
In 2014 Classic 24 Hr. Towing was caught operating without the required safety permits. The investigator informed Vijicic that he was violating Arkansas law. A similar interaction occurred in 2017, and Vijicic was cited for displaying a fake safety permit on the rear window of one of his tow trucks. The Towing and Recovery Board demanded he quit towing immediately. Vijicic continued to operate.
In 2018, the Towing and Recovery Board ordered Vijicic to pay a $10,000 civil penalty before the Board would issue him a license or safety permits. Again, Vujicic was later discovered to be operating with two unpermitted trucks.
In 2019, Vujicic applied to perform towing and recovery for the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
These unconscionable acts violate the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). Each violation can amount to a $10,000 fine. The Attorney General asks that the Court prohibit Classic 24 Hr. Towing & Recovery from doing further business until it has all the required permits.