A California man was sentenced for processing unauthorized withdrawals worth millions of dollars from customers' Bank Accounts. The 79-year-old man named Neli Godfred was sentenced to 15 months in prison in a Philadelphian court. Neli will also be supervised for one year after his release. The judge sentencing him also announced that Neli will pay a penalty of $50,000. He was also entered into a $100,000 forfeiture cash judgment against his defendant.

How Neli committed the crimes

Neli used a payment processing company based in Santa Ana named Check Site Inc. to help at least two fraudulent merchants process fraudulent withdrawals.

These retailers worked with websites that allegedly offered payday loans, sweepstakes, clubs, and subscriptions. In many cases, the sites were used for harvest bank account information belonging to customers. The merchants then used this information to withdraw money from customers bank accounts instead of offering services they advertised on their website. Neli helped the merchants access customers bank accounts and knowingly processed fraudulent withdrawals. He ignored red flags that were raised by these transactions and preferred to use banks that were willing to process these transactions. He also helped the merchants evade from being detected by bank employees and regulators. He also went ahead and advised the merchants to change their company identity and to hide their previous company identity so as to avoid followups by banks.

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One of Neli's e-mail to a merchant

Investigators also acquired one of Neli's e-mails he sent to a merchant. In the e-mail, Neli advised the retailer to stick to a certain bank. He also advised the retailer to set up a website that can be used to sell anything. In the e-mail, Neli went ahead and said that false credit card approvals would be created in the meantime. The fraudulent transactions were run through this credit card approvals. In the same e-mail, Neli went ahead and informed the merchant to expect a lot of returns, but transactions will need to be sent through over the next few weeks that do not have a high level of returns. The banks would stop looking at the fraudulent transactions, and after a few months, the name of the company that is being used to make the transactions will need to be changed.

Neli later pleaded guilty

Neli admitted using payment processing methods that helped him facilitate the fraud. The payment methods named "remotely created checks" were employed by the merchants so as to empty the bank accounts of customers. A senior justice department staff stated that Neli knowingly facilitated the fraud and thus committed a federal offense. The senior officials also stated that the justice department is working to protect consumers from anonymous unauthorized deductions from their accounts and that the justice department will prosecute anyone who knowingly participates in such fraud schemes.