SAN ANTONIO – An international fraud ring targeting some of the nation's most vulnerable veterans was broken up by federal authorities, U.S. Attorney John Bash announced in a news conference Wednesday.
The suspects are accused of using the personal information of at least 3,300 veterans and stealing millions of dollars from them, Bash said.
The suspects indicted include Robert Wayne Boling Jr., Frederick Brown, Trorice Crawford, Allan Albert Kerr and Jongmin Seok. Boling, Brown and Crawford are American citizens, while Kerr is an Australian citizen and Seok is a South Korean citizen.
"This is a major step in my view to protect veterans and also to combat elder fraud," Bash said.
But prosecutors said "the most egregious aspect" of the scheme was that it targeted disabled veterans who depend on their benefits.
Brown, a civilian medical records technician who worked with the U.S. Army in South Korea from 2010 to 2015, was the primary source of the stolen information, according to the federal indictment. Brown took screenshots of the information in medical databases and sent them to Boling, who prosecutors said was the mastermind of the scheme.
Brown was eventually fired in 2015 due to drug charges, prosecutors said in the news conference.
The information was used to wire thousands of dollars from the veterans' account or reroute their benefits to other bank accounts.
Crawford would recruit "money mules" who would receive the stolen money and route them to the other conspiracy members, according to the indictment.
Kerr and Seok would help Boling by obtaining additional records on the veterans such as credit reports and military personnel files.
The indictment included six examples of fraud.
Watch news conference in entirety below:
One of the victims, who was listed only by his initials, is a 76-year-old U.S. Army major who is a 100% service-connected disabled veteran and had a been prisoner of war.
The five suspects are charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and aggravated identity theft.
Bash said victims of this fraud will be contacted directly and resources will be made available to them to resolve the incident.