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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 21, 2020

Carmel man indicted for using PayPal and eBay to gain $2,000,000 by fraud

Ho used stolen credit card numbers and personal identifying information of others in order to buy and sell electronics and other merchandise

Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today, Tuong Quoc Ho, 32, Carmel, Ind., was indicted by a federal grand jury for an elaborate scheme to defraud businesses, consumers, suppliers, financial institutions, credit card holders, credit card companies, and identity theft victims for personal monetary gain. The indictment contains 28 federal offenses including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, credit card fraud, money laundering, and other federal offenses.

“Fraud cannot and will not be tolerated at any cost, especially when it involves identity theft,” said Minkler. “This can devastate people’s credit, which often times takes them years to repair. This office is committed to prosecuting such crimes to the fullest extent of the law. Today Mr. Ho’s streak of fraud and identity theft comes to an end.”

According to court documents, Ho and others overseas allegedly obtained personal information from the internet of hundreds of persons located throughout the United States and worldwide. He then allegedly used this information to fraudulently open PayPal and eBay accounts. He would then link his personal bank accounts to these PayPal accounts to receive and transfer money. There were over 500 PayPal accounts linked to Ho’s personal bank accounts.

The indictment further alleges that Ho and others used the eBay accounts to advertise and sell a variety of items that were purchased with stolen credit card information from thousands of individuals.

The indictment further alleges that Ho used the personal information he obtained of others to generate and submit to PayPal fraudulent documents in the names of those other persons, including identification documents (driver’s licenses, passports, social security cards), proof of address documents (utility bills, bank statements), and proof of sales documents (invoices, receipts). This was intended to mislead PayPal about the identity of the person who opened and maintain the accounts, as well as the true source of the items being sold on eBay.

Finally, the indictment alleges that proceeds from eBay sales totaling over $2 million, flowed through to the PayPal accounts. Ho then wired money to family and friends in Vietnam, and used the money for personal expenses, including the purchase of his home in Carmel.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Carmel Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

“These charges are the result of a complex international investigation conducted jointly by FBI Indianapolis’ Cyber Intrusion Program and the Carmel Police Department working in partnership to put an end to Mr. Ho’s illegal activity that targeted hundreds of victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall, FBI Indianapolis. “Identity theft wreaks havoc on the lives of legitimate consumers and can cause them to spend countless hours trying to clear their names. This arrest highlights the FBI's commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to continue an aggressive fight against individuals who carry out these schemes.”

“This case began in October of 2018,” said Carmel Police Department Major Charlie Harting. “Dedicated detectives and special agents from the Carmel Police Department and the FBI collaborated together to put the pieces of the investigative puzzle together that touched points on the other side of the world. The hard work of the detectives, special agents, and U.S. Attorney’s office is a great example of local and federal partnership working together for the good of our community and the country.”

 “Postal Inspectors investigate any fraud in which the U.S. Mail is used, even if the scheme originally started over the phone or through the Internet.” said Inspector-in-Charge Ed Gallashaw, USPIS Indianapolis. “ Being the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service, the Postal Inspection Service works with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to enforce fraud statutes to the maximum extent possible against those who seek to separate postal customers from their money. The indictment secured in this investigation is a perfect demonstration of how that team work helps us protect our customers and safeguard our communities.”

According to Assistant United States Attorneys MaryAnn T. Mindrum and James M. Warden, who are prosecuting this case for the government, defendant faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000.

An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in federal court.

In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the office’s firm commitment to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of complex, large scale fraud schemes that warrant federal resources and expertise, particularly those that are perpetrated by career fraudsters involving the use of bogus access devices and identity fraud. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan Section 4.5 and 5.1.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated February 21, 2020