Defendant Sentenced For Role In Sophisticated International Scheme To Steal Money From American Consumers' Bank Accounts
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A Las Vegas man was sentenced on Tuesday to five years and 10 months in prison for assuming others’ identities to steal nearly $185,800 from the Nevada State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Fund.
According to court documents, from February 2011 to August 2014, John Badea, 69, and co-defendant Radu Gal, 66, both of Las Vegas, repeatedly stole money belonging to individual victims that had been held in trust by the Nevada State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division. As part of their fraudulent scheme, Badea and Gal searched the Unclaimed Property Division website to identify potential victims who were owed unclaimed property, obtained those victims’ personal identifying information using a ruse, and then submitted fraudulent claims to the Unclaimed Property Division using the victim’s identities.
Badea opened bank accounts in the names of stolen identities and deposited stolen unclaimed property funds into those accounts. He used the stolen funds for personal gain and to further the fraudulent scheme. Through their scheme, Badea and Gal submitted more than 143 false claims and impersonated more than 100 persons. They unlawfully obtained checks from the Unclaimed Property Division totaling approximately $185,872.
Badea pleaded guilty in December 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, one count of mail fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Badea was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Andrew P. Gordon. Gal pleaded guilty in February 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Gal is scheduled to be sentenced on August 4, 2021.
"We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to pursue those who conspire to steal Social Security numbers and the identities of innocent people for their personal gain,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General of Social Security. "I thank the FBI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for their efforts and the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou for the District of Nevada, Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI, and Inspector General Ennis of the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General (SSA OIG) made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the FBI, the SSA OIG, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Frayn prosecuted the case.