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42 charged in Fla. fraud ring targeted CUs
ORLANDO, Fla. (3/26/10)--Florida law enforcement authorities are looking for the ringleader of a fraud and identity theft ring involving 42 people who stole more than $200,000 from five Orlando area credit unions over three years. Authorities made 21 arrests in "Operation Long Hair" and charged the suspects with various frauds, said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Twenty-one others--including accused ringleader Vanessa Rideau--are still at large (Orlando Sentinel and ABCActionNews.com March 24). Rideau, 41, allegedly recruited people to open accounts at a local credit union. When the recruits received their ATM cards, they would sell the cards and personal identification numbers to her for a fee. Then Rideau would deposit a fraudulent check or empty envelope into the account via an ATM--and immediately withdraw cash. Later, the check didn't clear and the credit union would contact the account holder, who would say the card had been stolen. Rideau is accused of making more than 40 transactions at the credit unions, said FDLE. The investigation began when one credit union complained to the agency about suspicious ATM transactions. The frauds occurred from 2005 to 2008 and targeted these credit unions: Insight FCU, Martin FCU, Central Florida Educators CU, McCoy FCU, and Fairwinds FCU. According to ABC Action News, many of the suspects are also suspects in a food stamp fraud.
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