I.C.E. News Release

October 10, 2008

Elaborate money laundering scheme lands Portland man in federal prison

PORTLAND, Ore. - A Portland, Ore., man was sentenced last week to 40 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $800,000 in restitution for Social Security fraud and money laundering activities, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Bechet Alkis, 45, pleaded guilty in April 2008 to using two credit cards to purchase 25 gift certificates at the Washington Square Mall in Portland. Alkis fraudulently obtained the credit cards by securing six different Social Security numbers from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and creating multiple identities.

Starting in 1997, Alkis used the false identities to open 183 different credit card accounts. He also established multiple bank accounts. He used these accounts and his two small businesses to orchestrate an elaborate scheme to launder proceeds from gift cards and pre-paid debit cards. He then wired the proceeds, which totaled more than $750,000, to family members and friends in Turkey and Bulgaria.

ICE investigators discovered that Alkis' scheme allowed him to defraud his creditors and hide large sums of money. It was also determined that he helped his longtime girlfriend Metanet Osman fraudulently obtain multiple Social Security numbers and operate a similar scheme with financial gain.

"Greedy individuals who seek to exploit the financial system for selfish gain are an affront to those who abide by the rules," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's office of investigations that oversees Oregon. "ICE will aggressively investigate these cases to deter others from benefitting from illegal financial activity."

Alkis is a Turkish national and faces deportation upon completion of his prison term. Alkis' girlfriend pleaded guilty to fraud in October 2007. She was ordered to pay more than $230,000 in restitution and has since been deported to Bulgaria.

ICE was joined in this investigation by the SSA Office of the Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service and the Tigard, Ore., police department.

-- ICE --

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was established in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is comprised of five integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities.

Last Modified: Friday, October 10, 2008
U.S. Department of Homeland Security