BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement joined U.S. Attorney William Hochul Tuesday afternoon to announce details of a major international fraud scheme that targeted Americans across the country.
The loan scheme utilized the internet and News 4 has learned more than 2,000 victims lost over $2.7 million. A federal grand jury in Buffalo returned a 62-count indictment, charging 33 defendants with taking part in the scheme, which has operated out of Ontario, Canada since 2005.
Sources say the scheme utilized numerous website and search engines to direct would-be loan applicants to apply for unsecured personal loans with non-existent financial companies. Fake representatives for the bogus virtual companies would contact applicants, advise them they were approved for the loan, then direct them to make an initial security deposit through Western Union to money couriers in order to receive the loan. The victims never received their loan or refunds of their deposits.
Once victims caught on to the fake company, the accused would then allegedly start over with a new website and a new fictional company. The listings often included a false U.S. address and often imitated the names of legitimate financial firms in order to further trick the would-be applicants into a false sense of security.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says the case is being tried in federal court in Buffalo because two grocery stores in the city tipped off agents about the scam, and there were some victims in western New York.
Ten U.S. citizens have been arrested, and the government is asking the others in Canada be extradited. Canadian officials are working with federal agents on the case.
Police say they had the wrong man, and that Jerome Thagard, who spent four years in prison, didn't murder Steven Northrup in 2009. But the victim's family says otherwise.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
State Education Commissioner John King is on his way to Buffalo. He is coming for a forum on the Common Core curriculum, downtown Thursday.
The Jo Bros are playing at Kissmas Bash Thursday night at the First Niagara Center. But the band split in September, saying there’s a deep rift.
A one-car crash backed up Route 33 inbound Thursday, around 6:30 a.m. The accident happened on Route 33 West before the Route 198 split.