Feds Charge 19 in $15M Cyber-Scam

A federal grand jury in Dallas accused 19 people of taking part in a scheme to use shell companies to defraud companies ranging from AT&T to Wells Fargo.

A federal grand jury in Dallasindicted 19 people Jan. 8 in a complex scheme that allegedly used a series of shell companies to defraud banks, telecommunications providers and others out of $15 million.

The 19 defendants were each charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Fifteen of the defendants are also charged with fraud related to electronic mail and aiding and abetting, and some also face charges of obstruction. The charges supersede an indictment from September that charged nine of the defendants in the conspiracy.

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired from March 2003 through July 2009 to defraud telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon as well as various financial institutions, utility companies, air conditioning companies, Website developers and insurance companies using shell companies created to hide the true identity of the owners. The defendants are also accused of using multiple fake identities for the same purpose.

With the shell companies as a cover, the defendants allegedly purchased office space, computer and telecommunications equipment, power generators and other goods and services, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the defendants face decades in prison. Among those indicted is Matthew Simpson, who ran a Dallas ISP known as Core IP Networks. Simpson declared his innocence in a note posted to Google Sites after the FBI raided his offices last April.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing.