A 32-year old California man was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a million-dollar scheme involving stolen identities of United States service members and veterans.
During his trial, Trorice Crawford admitted that he and his co-conspirators stole money from military members’ bank accounts from May 2017 to July 2020 after infiltrating a Department of Defense portal.
According to a report, Crawford’s co-defendant, Frederick Brown, a former medical records administrator for the U.S. Army, exfiltrated personal identifiable information of thousands of military members using his smartphone. Brown logged into the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application and stole names, social security numbers, DOD ID numbers, dates of birth and contact information.
The data was passed on to others who used the information to access various Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs benefits websites and steal millions of dollars.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate fraud on America’s warfighters and veterans,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ethan P. Davis of the Department’s Civil Division. “Working with our partners and using all tools available, we are committed to protecting those who protect us.”
Once the culprits gained access to records designed to enable military members to access benefits information, they recruited at least 30 money mules who could help with money laundering.
The ‘hired’ money mules provided their bank account numbers to receive the stolen funds, and according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, “each unauthorized transfer from a victim’s accounts ranged from between $8,000 to $13,000.”
“Crawford kept a percentage of the withdrawn funds for himself and oversaw the transmission of the remaining amounts by means of international money remittance services to others in the Philippines,” the release said.
An FTC report published earlier this year said that, “active duty service members are 76% more likely than other adults to report that an identity thief misused an existing account.”
Moreover, military personnel are 22% more likely to fall victim to new account fraud, with one-fifth of active troops experiencing identity fraud. The DOJ’s announcement only reinforces the claim, highlighting the lengths that identity thieves will go to in order to get an easy paycheck.