ESCONDIDO: Woman gets five years for $17M internet fraud scheme
(CNS) – An Escondido woman was sentenced to five years in
federal prison Thursday for engaging in a $17 million dollar Internet fraud scheme
that preyed on website users looking for work, to purchase and sell items, and
rent and buy property.
Kathleen Wurts, 54, pleaded guilty last April to conspiracy to commit
mail, wire and bank fraud.
According to court documents, Wurts' co-conspirators mailed her
counterfeit money orders and travelers' checks from outside the United States
(Nigeria, Abu Dhabi and the United Kingdom) and provided her with stolen bank
account and credit card numbers via emails and chat logs.
Once received, Wurts created hundreds of fraudulent checks using the
stolen bank account numbers.
She then mailed the counterfeit money orders, travelers' checks and
fraudulent checks to the victims using stolen credit card information to pay
for the postage, according to prosecutors.
The victims generally expected to receive a fixed amount, for, as an
example, the items they were selling, however, Wurts mailed them a money order
or check in an amount that exceeded the asking price.
The victims were then directed to deposit the monetary instruments into
their own accounts, keep a certain percentage “for their trouble,” and wire-
transfer the excess portion of the stolen amount to an overseas account.
Prosecutors said Wurts received more than $800,000 in counterfeit money
orders and travelers' cheques and created more than $17.2 million in fraudulent
checks using stolen bank account numbers.
Wurts mailed the fraudulent monetary instruments to victims and paid
more than $13,000 for the postage using stolen credit card numbers.