A California man was arraigned this week in federal court in Sacramento on multiple counts of computer fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud for allegedly opening 58,000 fake brokerage accounts.
Michael Largent, 22, of Plumas Lake, Calif., was charged with using false Social Security numbers, drivers license numbers, and names - even the names of cartoon and comic book characters - to open the accounts.
He used the accounts to steal so-called micro-deposits of a few cents to a few dollars deposited by brokerage firms into new accounts to verify that users can access them. Prosecutors charge that the scam netted Largent about US$50,000 in the course of six months.
According to documents from the DOJ, Largent allegedly defrauded ETrade, Charles Schwab & Co. and other businesses using this scheme between November 2007 and May 2008.
When the micro-deposits were made Largent allegedly transferred or attempted to transfer the funds into his bank accounts and onto pre-paid debit cards.