A money laundering ring that allegedly bilked more than $100,000 from several Waterloo banks has resulted in 18 arrests and police expect to make more. The fraud scheme allegedly began in 2008. According to Waterloo police, several members of a criminal network opened accounts at various local banks, made false deposits and then moved the money around to other accounts using starter checks and debit cards.

Police say the scheme artificially inflated the value of the accounts, costing the banks around $125,000. By using multiple transactions, police say members of the criminal network used the checks and debit cards to get cash and make purchases – some of which were United States Postal Service money orders.

With the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, police discovered that group members bought 82 money orders in excess of $50,000 in an attempt to hide the funds. Court records indicate four local banks were used in the scheme. Police began their investigation in September.

Seventeen of the suspects arrested in the case are from Waterloo. The other is from Chicago. Police say more arrests are likely in the case.

By Elwin Huffman, KOEL, Waterloo