Richmond Woman Charged with Defrauding Tongan Community in $13 Million Stockton-Based International Ponzi Scheme
SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Johnathan Ward, 44, formerly of Tracy, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Ward conspired to defraud financial institutions using a scheme called “refund fraud.” This scheme exploited the refund process used by merchants to pay back customers for returns, reimbursements, and erroneous charges. The conspirators posed as merchants and executed fraudulent bankcard refunds, such as credit and debit card refunds, causing an unauthorized transfer of money from a merchant bank account to a bankcard account under the conspirators’ control.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Tear (REACT) Task Force, which includes investigators from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Delaney is prosecuting the case.
Ward is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on April 11, 2023. Ward faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.