A Westminster woman has been indicted on money laundering charges, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Serena Lieu, 55, is accused of receiving about $1.8 million from fraud victims, prosecutors said. She allegedly transferred about $560,000 from her bank accounts to various banks and Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, from July 2020 to February 2021, prosecutors said.

Authorities learned in 2019 that one of Lieu’s bank accounts received a wire transfer of $103,350 from a so-called business email compromise victim in Dallas, prosecutors said. The scam targets legitimate transfer-of-fund requests with cyber criminals using malware to masquerade as someone involved in the money transfers so they can re-direct the money to a bank account they control, prosecutors said.

It is difficult to get the money back because the money is often quickly switched to other bank accounts or spent on cryptocurrency, prosecutors said.

Lieu, who has opened 11 bank accounts at seven different financial institutions since 2017, was warned by FBI agents in May 2019 that she was moving fraud profits in and out of her accounts, prosecutors alleged. She was sent a “money mule” warning letter, but continued handling the fraud profits, prosecutors said.

Lieu was charged in a grand jury indictment Tuesday with three counts of money laundering and three counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

Lieu was arrested Wednesday and pleaded not guilty in federal court in Santa Ana. She was released after posting $50,000 bond.

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