An Internet loan scam that prosecutors say defrauded more than 2,000 victims has led to federal charges against 33 people in the U.S. and Canada.
The defendants, who operated the scam since 2005, used online ads to lure victims to apply for unsecured personal loans, according to a 62-count indictment made public today by U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. in Buffalo, New York. The victims were told to wire money as a “security deposit,” then never got any loans or refunds, according to the charges.
The fraud netted $2.7 million, according to Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The indictment charges 32 people, including nine arrested today, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Another defendant was arrested July 1. One of the 10 was charged in a criminal complaint. All of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money.
U.S. authorities said they will seek the arrest of other defendants, who are in Canada, through the use of law enforcement treaties between the two countries. The names of the defendants who remain at large were redacted from the public copy of the indictment.
The Obama administration and the Federal Trade Commission have focused on exposing scams that seek to take advantage of people trying to recover from the U.S. economic crisis. On July 3, the FTC said it halted two operations that fooled consumers into believing they would get help with their debts.
In the charges disclosed today, prosecutors claimed the defendants ran the fraud from cities in the U.S. and Ontario.
The case is U.S. v. Jaichon, 12-CR-183, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).
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