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Five Men Indicted in Identity Theft Fraud Case

A local credit union helped make a major break in the case.
Widget Financial in Erie and PNC in Pittsburgh are two of the financial institutions unknowingly victimized in an elaborate scheme to defraud the government.

The crimes were revealed today by federal authorities after an indictment was unsealed in U7-S District Court.

Five men from New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee are accused of stealing the identities of thousands of people, opening bank accounts in their names to obtain cards, and filing up to 2,400 fraudulent tax returns.

The government says those returns were filed in such a way as to make it appear that the individuals were due tax refunds. The government says some of the tax money returned to the defendants was spent by them while some of it was reportedly funneled to Nigeria.

Representatives from Widget Financial say their team discovered the scheme when the defendants tried to open an account that did not seem right.

The defendants are charged with 13 counts of wire fraud.

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