UK fella is a multimillion-dollar cyber-hustle mastermind – US DoJ

Brit hit with 'fraud scam' writ

A UK bloke living in America has been indicted by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly running a multi-million-dollar online fraud operation.

The DOJ claims 37-year-old Gareth David Long operated a series of schemes that allowed him to illegally withdraw money from the bank accounts of thousands of unsuspecting victims. Long, who was living in Cedar Hill, Texas, faces 39 federal counts including money laundering, wire fraud, and identity theft.

According to the complaint [PDF] filed in the Nevada US District Court, Long ran at least three different scams between 2008 and 2013 in which he created and deposited roughly $22m worth of remotely created checks (RCCs) without authorization.

Designed as a way to make payments for over-the-phone or online orders, an RCC uses the account holder's name, address and bank account number to create a check that can be processed without a physical signature.

The DOJ charges that Long created a payment processing company called V Internet that created RCCs for merchants, including a telemarketing operation and payday loan processors.

"Gareth David Long abused the sensitive personal and financial information of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a brazen scheme to steal millions of dollars from unwitting account holders," Principal Deputy Assistant US Attorney General Benjamin Mizer said of the case.

"As this case makes clear, we will investigate and pursue charges against individuals who abuse the financial information of American consumers."

According to the DOJ filing, Long first processed RCC payments for an unnamed telemarketing operation (referred to as "Company A"), which had its transactions suspended on accusations it targeted the elderly for fraudulent charges. Long then moved on to set up a series of sites that purported to connect users with a "Company B" payday loan provider.

The DOJ alleges that, armed with the account details it gathered while working with companies A and B, as well as additional account details it purchased through "lead list" services, V Internet then created more than 750,000 fraudulent RCCs, each for $30, deposited into accounts controlled by Long.

To help cover the scheme, the indictment alleges, V Internet also ran a call center in which operators were instructed to lie to account holders that the charge would be reversed or in other cases tell callers they "must have applied for a payday loan and authorized the $30 fee; otherwise V Internet would not have their account information."

According to the DOJ, around half of the RCC payments were eventually reversed, either by banks at the request of account holders or because the charged accounts had been closed or did not have enough money to cover the RCC.

In addition to the criminal charges against Long, the DOJ says it has, by way of the US Postal Inspection Service, seized $2.9m from V Internet's bank accounts. Also seized were houses and land purchased by Long and a fleet of vehicles consisting of five airplanes, a Land Rover, a Dodge Charger, multiple tractors, five all-terrain vehicles, and a fire truck.

The DOJ did not say why Long owned a fire truck. ®

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