YOUNGSVILLE, NC (WTVD) -- A new indictment unsealed in federal court is shedding new light on an alleged money-laundering scheme that prosecutors say is connected to a Franklin County company.
The Manhattan (NY) U.S. Attorney is charging Brandon Martin and Tameko Lindo with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to the complaint, Martin and Lindo owned and operated Flawless Escorts, a nationwide prostitution ring.
Also in the complaint, a detailed account of how Flawless Escorts allegedly advertised its services on Eros.com, another adult website that was allegedly run by a Youngsville company called Bolma Star Services.
"As alleged, Brandon Martin and Tameko Lindo ran a nationwide prostitution ring, requiring their 'employees' to service as many as seven clients a day," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a release sent to ABC11. "However, the fatal flaw in Martin and Lindo's alleged scheme was their underestimation of law enforcement's ability to detect and halt their illicit activities."
Though the New York case has been going on for several years, the I-Team first learned of a possible North Carolina connection after a federal raid of Bolma Star Services on Nov. 7, 2017. The I-Team was the first news crew on scene as agents from Homeland Security Investigations seized dozens of computers, hard drives and servers.
At the time, investigators told ABC11 they were investigating "illicit activity," but several sources - including Homeland Security officials, former employees and adult industry insiders - connected the dots between Bolma and Eros Guide.
"(Eros) set out to be the world's number one website," Maxine Doogan, founder of Sex Workers and Erotic Service Legal Educational and Research Project (ESLERP), explained to the I-Team. "They pick every nook and cranny, any small rural town across America and across the globe."
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York told the I-Team that its case is ongoing, meaning there could be more to learn from items seized by federal agents (a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said it is assisting in the investigation).
No one from North Carolina, and no one directly working for Eros.com or Bolma Star Services has been arrested or is facing any charges.
Eros.com, which is still up and running, does include a disclaimer on its website reading "We are not an escort agency nor can we make referrals."
I-Team: New indictment reveals possible Triangle ties in 'escort scheme,' money laundering