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California man jailed for E*Trade skim scam

Salami-slice fraudster heads for the can

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A man who scammed online brokerages including E*Trade and Charles Schwab by stealing a huge number of tiny test deposits from multiple accounts was jailed for 15 months on Thursday.

Michael Largent, 22, of Plumas Lake, California, was also ordered to pay $200,073 in compensation to his victims after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud.

Largent opened 58,000 brokerage accounts using false details in order to steal the micro-deposits made by financial firms to test that accounts are set up correctly. Some of the false names he used took their inspiration from characters in cult cartoon King of the Hill.

The scam netted Largent $50,000, which he transferred to either pre-paid debit cards or his own online banking account. The scam ran between November 2007 and May 2008 until the fraud was detected. A joint US Secret Service and FBI investigation was launched, leading to Largent's arrest.

Largent's crimes have been widely likened to so-called salami-slicing scams as depicted in films such as Superman III and Office Space. ®

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