Recently in Tennessee, a woman pleaded guilty in a federal court for her role in fraudulently listing vehicles for sale on websites like eBay. She was charged with the federal crimes of bank and wire fraud.

The woman admitted in her plea hearing that her and her co-conspirators would list fake vehicles for sale at online marketplaces. When potential buyers expressed interest, the co-conspirators would send them emails directing them to wire payments to certain bank accounts. Those who sent the money never received the vehicles they paid for.

The woman also admitted that they obtained the bank accounts by going to Bank of America branches and opening accounts under false identities using counterfeit passports. The woman pleaded guilty to opening 17 bank accounts. There were a total of 36 people who paid them money, totaling over $550,000. The money was sent to co-conspirators located outside of the United States.

The woman was apprehended while attempting to open a bank account at a Bank of America branch outside of Tennessee. Her prison sentence could be up to five years, and she could also be fined up to $250,000.

As this story illustrates, being convicted of a federal crime can have serious and long-term consequences. Punishment for fraud can be harsh and long lasting. Aside from a lengthy prison sentence and substantial fines, those charged with fraud should also be worried about a criminal record as a felon should they be convicted. It is therefore important that a person accused of fraudulent activity know his or her legal rights and defenses.

Source: LoanSafe.org, “Hungarian Woman Pleads Guilty in TN for Role in Scheme Involving Online Marketplace Fraud,” Evan Bedard, Nov. 21, 2012