Two Burlington County women charged in illegal $175M check cashing scheme

Two Burlington County women were arrested today and charged with operating an illegal unlicensed check-cashing operation that cashed over $175 million in checks and failed to file currency transaction reports (CTRs) on their customers.

Luciana Machado, 42, of Riverside, and Juliana Gomes-Souza, 45, of Cinnaminson, Jersey, are charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to fail to file CTRs and operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Machado and Gomes-Souza made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio today.

A CTR is used to report to regulators any currency transaction that exceeds $10,000.

The Bank Secrecy Act initiated these reports in 1970.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Machado and Gomes-Souza have operated two businesses – Via Brazil I in Riverside and Via Brazil II in Philadelphia – as a criminal enterprise that has allowed their customers to cash over $175 million in checks without generating CTRs or financial records identifying their customers.

This facilitates the customers’ ability to pay off-the-books employees and laborers in cash and avoid payroll and income taxes since at least 2018.

The charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine $250,000, or twice the gross financial gain derived or twice the loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest.

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