A British man has been jailed in the United States for stealing millions from hundreds of thousands of elderly victims via online scams.
Gareth David Long, a 41-year-old British citizen was sentenced to 70 months imprisonment for “running a scheme to steal millions of dollars,” according to the Department of Justice.
Mr Long pleaded guilty to the charges, which included wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to documents from the Department of Justice, “Long admitted that he created and deposited checks drawn on the checking accounts of more than 375,000 victims without authorization during a six-month period.”
“When victims called to complain about the charges, Long instructed employees working for him to tell the victims that they had authorized the charges in connection with an online payday loan application.”
Mr Long operated a third-party processing company called V Internet Corp, which specialised in remotely-created checks (RCCs). These RCC checks were not created by an account holder, but via the third-party payee. The DOJ writes that “because of this payment processing activity, Long possessed the personal and financial information on hundreds of thousands of consumers whose accounts he debited.”
In total, Mr Long created and deposited more than 750,000 RCCs, which totalled $22 million. Around half of these RCCs were reversed by the banks of the victims, however, Long managed to steal $11 million over six-months.
Long used these funds to pay for farm equipment, a fire truck, cars, three airplanes, 23-acres of land in Texas, as well as his personal expenses.
Jody Hunt, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division said that “the defendant exploited his access to sensitive personal and financial information to steal millions of dollars from victims throughout the United States… the DOJ is committed to protecting the public from such identity theft and fraud.”
The US Postal Inspection Service was able to seize around $2.9 million from Long’s company accounts. He has since forfeited the Texan ranch he purchased.
Inspector for the Criminal Investigations Group at the United States Postage Inspection Service, Delany E. De Leon-Colon said that “the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has been at the forefront of investigating fraud schemes for many years… we remain steadfast in our pursuit to safeguard the public from those who take advantage of their trusted access for personal gains.”
“Anyone who engages in this type of fraud scheme should know Postage Inspectors will find them and they will be held accountable for their actions,” Leon-Colon added.
The Department of Justice added that since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA), the department has launched hundreds of “enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors.”
This included the launch of a March initiative targeting 400 defendants implicated in a wide-sprawling attempt to target senior citizens with identity fraud and financial scams.