09/23/2016 03:15 EDT | Updated 09/23/2016 03:15 EDT

PacNet Services, Vancouver Company, Called A 'Significant Transnational Criminal Organization'

The accusation puts the company on a level with the Yakuza.

VANCOUVER — A payment processing company in Vancouver has been accused of being a "significant transnational criminal organization'' by the United States Treasury Department.

In a news release Thursday, the department alleges the PacNet Group has a 20-year history of laundering cash raised through what it calls "fraudulent solicitation schemes'' involving lotteries and mail fraud.

It alleges that PacNet has accepted and deposited millions of dollars in cash from U.S. victims, taken a cut and then returned the rest to "the scammers'' via wire transfers from a holding account, which the department says obscures the money trail.

PacNet Services Ltd. logo, from the company's website. (Photo: PacNet Services Ltd. screengrab)

The Treasury Department says PacNet's operations are conducted through a global network run by 12 people, through 24 businesses in 18 countries.

In Canada, the department says it has offices in Vancouver and Ottawa, while two of 12 people named in the documents are also linked to separate properties in Vancouver and West Vancouver.

Three people listed as principals of PacNet could not be reached for comment.

595 Howe Street in Vancouver, where the PacNet Services office is located. (Photo: Google Street View)

In declaring PacNet a transnational criminal group, Treasury Department official John Smith says all PacNet property or interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction have been blocked, while the Department of Justice conducts searches and proceeds with criminal actions.

"PacNet has knowingly facilitated the fraudulent activities of its customers for many years, and (these) designations are aimed at shielding Americans ... from the large-scale, illicit money flows that are generated by these scams against vulnerable individuals,'' Smith said in the release.

As CBC News reported, the designation puts PacNet on a level with criminal organizations such as Mexico's Zetas and Japan's Yakuza.

Follow The Huffington Post B.C. on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery How To Avoid Charity Scam Organizations See Gallery