Authorities say 33 people are facing charges in connection with a large-scale, international loan-fraud scheme, says U.S. Attorney William Hochul, Jr. Of the 33 accused, 10 are American and 23 are Canadian, Hochul says.
The defendants are facing charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. Conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while conspiracy to launder money carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to twice the amount property involved in the crime.
The alleged scheme, which is based in the Toronto area, targeted more than 2,000 victims throughout the U.S., including about 20 in Western New York.
Officials say the defendants were involved in a massive loan-fraud scheme that operated over the Internet, out of cities in both the U.S. and Ontario-Canada since about 2005. The scheme utilized several web sites and search engines to direct would-be loan applicants to apply for unsecured personal loans with non-existent financial companies.
Officials says the more than 2,000 victims lost nearly $3 million dollars over the seven-year period of this scheme.
Arrested on Tuesday included Brynell Jones, 31, and Shardonya Fletcher, 26, of Detroit, Mich.; Gerri Britton, 40, and Deborah Boshears, 40, both of Wyandotte, Mich.; Candice McGraw, 22, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Sherece Payne, 22, Ashely Cain, 21, and Luna Noncent, 23, of Brooklyn, NY. Additionally, Dianne Jaichon, 36, of Windsor, Ont. was arrested July 1.
Authorities say investigators got their initial tip from a Buffalo grocery store, which got suspicious about some money transfers and notified the authorities with the concern.