A Novel Idea

48385801 - money in the hands of

Sometimes, an idea for an intriguing novel comes from real life. Form a plot around a love relationship between a celebrity, her fugitive boyfriend and their lavish lifestyle; add in a police detective gone rogue, stolen money, deception and voilà – you have a good plot for a best seller. The Daily Press reports on an international fraud scheme that includes all of these elements. (Don’t skip to the last paragraph yet; it will spoil the ending.)

The article states that three Canadians were involved in an elaborate international fraud scam that reportedly funneled more than a half million dollars through an American television news anchor’s bank account. A Canadian husband and wife team conspired with an American news anchor’s Canadian boyfriend to scam victims through their ”asset locator” business that tracked down money believed to be stolen by former spouses, estranged siblings and past business partners.

According to court records, the husband, who was a former police detective, and his wife were quite adept at scamming their victims by claiming to find lost cash overseas. After reportedly finding the lost assets, the duo would provide false financial documents allegedly created by the news anchor’s boyfriend and charge the client tens of thousands of dollars to further trace the missing assets that really didn’t exist. The victims – both Canadian and American citizens – reportedly paid the co-conspirators more than a million dollars over a six-year period.

The boyfriend was allegedly paid for his bogus financial documents through wire transfers to his girlfriend’s bank account. He and his girlfriend allegedly spent more than $526,000 on personal expenses and luxury items. When he discovered that he was being investigated by the federal government, the boyfriend skipped town and is believed to be on the run somewhere in Greece.

The married couple, who had been arrested in Canada, but skipped bond and fled first to the Bahamas, then to the Caribbean, finally pleaded guilty to their money laundering conspiracy in the U.S. They will each serve five-and-a-half years in prison. In an ironic twist, the news anchor who was known for her signature ”Taking Action Against Crime” segments, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of making a false tax return. She has not been charged in the fraud conspiracy case.

Just as many novels do not have a happy ending, this case doesn’t appear to end well for the criminals. Ending on a good note, the good guys busted up the fraud ring and got the bad guys, leaving plenty of room for a sequel about the boyfriend on the run. (The plot thickens.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Canadian Couple Sentenced in International Fraud Ring Linked to Former WTKR News Anchor,” written by Peter Dujardin and published by the Daily Press on January 16, 2014.

NEWPORT NEWS — A married couple from Canada was sentenced in Newport News federal court on Thursday for their role in a fraud conspiracy that’s been linked to a bank account opened by former WTKR news anchor Juliet Bickford.

Cullen Johnson, 65, and Elaine White, 70, both Canadian citizens, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis to five-and-a-half years in prison, following their prior guilty pleas to money laundering conspiracy.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.