Three Southern California residents are facing federal charges for their alleged participation in a years-long scheme to steal millions of dollars from consumers’ bank accounts, officials announced today.
The three were arrested Tuesday after a Los Angeles federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment last week charging a total of 14 defendants with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the indictment, various members and associates of the alleged criminal enterprise created shell entities that claimed to offer products or services, such as cloud storage. After obtaining identifying and banking information for victims, the defendants allegedly withdrew money from victims’ bank accounts.
The three Southland defendants are Edward Courdy, 73, of Hawaiian Gardens; Eric Bauer, 65, of Huntington Beach; and Veronica Crosswell, 35, of Long Beach, according to the indictment.
In addition to the RICO offense, the three Southern California defendants are charged with at least one count of wire fraud, the DOJ said.
“This sophisticated scheme allegedly generated millions of dollars in revenue by using consumers’ personal information to fraudulently reach straight into the bank accounts of thousands of Americans,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement.
“The indictment alleges that an international network of fraudsters engaged in a wide-ranging scheme which sought to victimize consumers while concealing their activities from banks and law enforcement authorities. Thanks to law enforcement, the defendants’ alleged efforts to continue this scheme have failed.”
Courdy, Bauer and Crosswell made their initial appearances in Los Angeles federal court on Tuesday.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison for racketeering conspiracy and up to 30 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, prosecutors noted.