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Press Release

Tehama County Woman Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Refund Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sabrina Raylene Toilolo, 26, of Corning, was sentenced today to seven years and two months in prison for a conspiracy to commit wire fraud for her participation in a merchant refund‑fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

In June 2020, a federal grand jury returned a 14-count superseding indictment against Toilolo and her previously charged co-defendant Johnathon Ward, charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, between July 2017 and September 2019, Sabrina Toilolo, Johnathon Ward, Monica Nunes, and Talalima Toilolo conspired to defraud financial institutions by exploiting the merchant refund process used by businesses and retail establishments to refund customers for returns, reimbursements, and erroneous charges. In total, the conspirators attempted $3.8 million in fraudulent transactions.

The defendants committed this scheme by stealing or purchasing point-of-sale (POS) terminals used by businesses to process bankcard transactions. The defendants programmed each terminal to make it appear as if it was authorized by a particular retail merchant, connected the terminals to payment processing intermediaries, and executed refund transactions even though no purchases had been made. The payment processors, falsely believing the terminals were authorized, approved the refunds and caused the merchants’ payment processors to transfer funds to the defendants’ fraudulent accounts. The defendants then drained the stolen funds from the accounts and distributed them among members of the conspiracy.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) Task Force, which includes investigators from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Delaney is prosecuting the case.

On April 2, 2021, Nunes was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison.  On Feb. 11, 2021, Talalima Toilolo was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Ward has pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9, 2023.

Updated August 17, 2023

Financial Fraud