.Local 20-somethings Allegedly Laundered Millions

Santa Rosa police have arrested four men allegedly involved in a wide-ranging scam in which the police said they laundered $7.8 million in 2022.

Police said they spent 12 months investigating the crimes, beginning in September 2022, when they received a request for assistance from a detective in West Deptford, New Jersey, related to a scam investigation affecting someone in their jurisdiction.

The detective tracked stolen funds to someone in Santa Rosa, who allegedly withdrew approximately $1,000 from an involved bank account.

Santa Rosa police served a search warrant at the subject’s residence on Nov. 15, 2022, in the 2100-block of Meadowbrook Court, the home of 23-year-old Santa Rosa resident Anthony Chand.

Police said 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 conspired 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.

Detectives identified a second suspect and served a search warrant on Nov. 15 at the residence of 21-year-old Alexander King Knigge of Santa Rosa, on the 4000-block of Arthur Ashe Circle.

The search allegedly revealed the home was 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.

Police also seized $80,000 from a hidden safe in the home and found other evidence showing Knigge spent victims’ money to purchase an Audi sedan and several expensive Rolex watches, which were also seized.

Police said they believe Knigge kept stolen funds, which he laundered or was actively laundering, in several bank accounts which were subsequently frozen.

Knigge was in Hawaii trying to buy property with stolen money when the warrant was served, as police froze $275,000 of victim money from Knigge’s bank accounts.

Chand and Knigge’s alleged co-conspirators were 21-year-old Healdsburg resident Brileigh Blosser, and 22-year-old Santa Rosa resident Calvin Valledor.

Over the next several months, detectives served dozens of search warrants to 26 different financial institutions, targeting over 150 bank accounts created or used by Knigge. They also served warrants on numerous online service providers, to get a better understanding of the scheme.

Police said many of the victims throughout the United States were elderly. They were contacted by call centers overseas, likely in India. The victims were scammed by a variety of methods, including impersonation of law enforcement to trick people into paying money to settle alleged outstanding warrants or overdue taxes, “Norton Lifelock” scams, computer virus scams and remote bank account hacking through tricks or elaborate schemes. Victims were tricked into wire transferring money to accounts controlled by Knigge.

Police said 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 allegedly received by Knigge in the bank accounts, police said he and his co-conspirators worked quickly to launder the funds out of the accounts to avoid banks freezing the funds. Knigge allegedly used numerous strategies and relied heavily upon his co-conspirators, who he routinely called “employees,” to launder the funds.

Police said, once the money was laundered, evidence suggests 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.

Detectives determined this group laundered more than $7.8 million in 2022.

Investigators identified victims and worked with law enforcement agencies throughout the country to make necessary police reports and start investigations from the source with the goal of returning some of their lost funds.

Police arrested Knigge, Blosser and Valledor in November, and all three were being held in lieu of $1 million. All three have been charged with conspiracy, money laundering, aggravated white collar crime enhancement and identity theft with 10+ victims. Knigge has also been charged with elder abuse.

During Valledor’s arrest, detectives allegedly seized two illegal rifles. He has been charged for possession of an assault rifle as well.

Anyone with information on this money laundering operation can contact Detective Tim Gooler or a property crimes detective at 707.543.3575.

PQ

Evidence suggested Chand and his co-conspirators conspired with an overseas scam call center to launder stolen money through an elaborate scheme before sending it back overseas.

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