A 44-year-old Florida man who admitted to his role in an India-based computer hacking scheme that stole $150,000 from an elderly Kalispell woman was sentenced Tuesday to two years and nine months in prison and is ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to seven victims, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Eddly Joseph, of Gainesville, Fla., pleaded guilty in August to wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy
The court also imposed two years of supervised release as part of Joseph’s prison sentence.
“Far too often, these internationally-based fraud schemes result in no accountability for those who prey on Montanans, but not this time” U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich stated in a press release. “Due to the diligent work of the FBI, Joseph was caught and is now going to federal prison for running a predatory scheme by tricking and stealing from elderly victims across the country, including a Kalispell woman. As this case showed, we will turn over every rock to pursue these fraudsters, but the best thing Montanans can do to protect themselves is to not send money to people who randomly call soliciting money due to some kind of fake emergency, such as an alleged virus existing on your computer.”
According to court documents, a Glacier Bank employee in February notified the FBI that a Montana woman in her 70s was the victim of a scam. The international, India-based scam included fraudsters tricking the victim into giving them $150,000 for “safe-keeping.”
The fraudsters tricked victims into believing they had a virus on their computers and that their bank accounts were accessible to hackers. To “safekeep” the victims’ money, Joseph and other individuals involved in the scam would meet the victims and take their cash, records state.
After learning of the scam, the FBI set up a ruse, claiming the victim had an additional $50,000 for the fraudsters. When Joseph and others arrived to collect the money, the FBI arrested them. As a result of Joseph’s and others’ conduct, victims across the United States were repeatedly scammed, with a total loss of $1,236,470.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon prosecuted the case. The FBI and Flathead County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.
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