A Florida man accused in an India-based computer hacking scheme that stole $150,000 from an elderly Montana woman admitted to a fraud crime Monday, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Eddly Joseph, 43, of Gainesville, Fla., pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Joseph faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided.
Sentencing was set for Dec. 20 before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Joseph was released on conditions pending further proceedings.
The government alleged in court documents that a large enterprise originating from India was involved in stealing money from the elderly in the United States. In February, various fraudsters stole $150,000 from a 73-year-old woman, identified as Jane Doe, in Kalispell.
Joseph and co-defendant, Sukhdev Vaid, of India, fraudulently made it appear as if victims had a virus on their computers and that their bank accounts were accessible to hackers. To “safekeep” the victims’ money, Joseph and others directed the victims to withdraw cash so the hackers could not access and steal the victims’ money. Joseph and others would then meet the victims, take their cash, thereby stealing it.
The government further alleged that Jane Doe received a pop-up on her computer explaining she was “hacked” and to call a number for customer support. When Jane Doe complied and called, the fraudsters directed Jane Doe to remove cash from her bank accounts for safe keeping at the “Fed.” Jane Doe complied and gave the fraudsters $150,000.
In March, Jane Doe told the fraudsters she still had $50,000 in cash, which was a ruse set up by the FBI. Joseph traveled to Montana, along with Vaid, to steal the money from Jane Doe; both were arrested when they arrived. The investigation determined that the fraudsters used a remote access connection device to hack Jane Doe’s computer in January. Vaid has pleaded not guilty to charges and is awaiting trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon is prosecuting the case. The FBI and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.