PITTSBURGH (2/5/15)--On Monday, federal prosecutors indicted 16 people allegedly associated with an identity theft and wire fraud scam that was uncovered by Widget Financial FCU, Erie, Pa., in 2012.
The group conspired to commit wire fraud, according to the indictment, by submitting $38 million in fraudulent tax returns--$10 million of which was actually paid by the Internal Revenue Service between 2010 and 2013. The funds were deposited into phony bank accounts, then spent, deposited into the conspirators' real bank accounts or sent to Nigeria, according to the indictment.
Also, nearly 11,500 people had their identities compromised and used to open roughly 3,500 accounts at 443 financial institutions--including the $264 million-asset credit union that discovered discrepancies in its accounts (News Now 4/25/14).
"Widget Financial was first to report it to FBI up here, and the FBI just ran with it," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Trabold (Associated Press Feb. 3).
The defendants--primarily from the New York region--were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Five previously were indicted in April 2014.