ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A former Saratoga County resident has pleaded guilty to engaging in a money laundering conspiracy. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said Christopher Vandermark, 57, formerly of Gansevoort, participated in the conspiracy which was designed to conceal money from a multi-state unemployment insurance fraud scheme.
In pleading guilty, Vandermark admitted to talking to someone online who represented herself to be a woman living in North Carolina. The woman told Vandermark to open accounts at multiple financial institutions, as well as provide her with routing details for his existing accounts.
From June 2020 through early April 2021, DOJ said Vandermark’s accounts received transfers of more than $88,000 in fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits from six states. Vandermark bought hundreds of gift cards using the benefits, photographed the identifying numbers on the cards, and sent the photos to the woman. DOJ said the identifying numbers could be used to sell the gift cards online in an effort to conceal the original source of the money.
Vandermark also admitted that he received multiple warnings from financial institutions that his actions were part of a fraudulent scheme. On April 15, 2021, a federal law enforcement agent and a state investigator interviewed Vandermark at his home regarding about $37,000 in fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits transferred to his account at a local bank. Vandermark denied holding the account and receiving the funds. DOJ said both of those statements were false.
Following the law enforcement interview, Vandermark opened another account and received $13,734 in benefits from three states into two accounts, which he used to purchase more gift cards through July 2021. He then photographed the gift cards and sent the photos to the woman.
DOJ said Vandermark admitted responsibility for $13,734 in benefits laundered through his accounts after the April law enforcement interview. He agreed to pay restitution to those states.
Vandermark’s money laundering conspiracy conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. Vandermark is scheduled to be sentenced on October 27.