Fraudsters stole $2mn in Instagram paycheck selfies scam
From at least November 2007 through September 11, 2013, the group of alleged counterfeit check manufacturers, recruiters, check runners, and bank insiders - all called the Sienemah Gaye Organization - participated in the conspiracy “using fraudulently obtained and otherwise compromised account information, manufactured counterfeit checks with blank check stock and check-printing software, which they distributed to other members of a bank fraud conspiracy to cash at dozens of different banks and other financial institutions,” according to the indictment and court filings.
The defendants also scoured social media site Instagram’s hashtag #myfirstpaycheck to glean account numbers and bank routing data from photos of checks.
A search for the hashtag on Wednesday turned up about 300 times, according to CNN Money, often with banking details on checks visible.
Using stolen information, the defendants opened bank accounts and manufactured fraudulent checks before cashing them. Their actions netted more than $2 million, of which they split among all participants, according to the indictment.
“This case is representative of a recurring trend - the migration of traditional street criminals to white collar fraud,”said United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger in a US Department of Justice news release.
In addition to the 25 members indicted on identity theft and bank fraud charges, three more were "charged by information for related crimes," according to the news release.