Benefits Coordinator at CTA Accused of Looting Pensions Using Dead Pensioners

A benefits specialist for the CTA is facing federal fraud and embezzlement charges related to the withdrawal of $350,000 worth of pension benefits related to deceased employees. She has since been charged with five counts of wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, but usually, the sentence is tied to the amount of money stolen and not the number of times the fraud was committed. 

According to the prosecution, the defendant made requests to disburse death benefits and pension benefits to purported beneficiaries of CTA pension plans. The funds, however, were later diverted into bank accounts controlled by the defendant. The money was then used for personal expenditures. 

Authorities say that the defendant made 43 death benefit or pension refund requests totaling an estimated $350,000. The defendant worked as a bus driver and later as a retirement plan specialist. 

What is Wire Fraud?

Fraud charges are filed in accordance with how the fraud was committed or by what means. In this case, the fraud was committed using electronic devices. Hence, the defendant is charged with wire fraud. If you use a telephone, the internet, social media, or anything else that is similar to those devices, the charge against you will be wire fraud as opposed to mail fraud or bank fraud. 

New Scams

The newest scam involves leveraging individuals on the internet to create advertising videos for investment scams. The individual is told that if they invest $500, they can get $5,000 in return. But in order to get their money, they must take a video of themselves touting the scheme to others. The woman told the internet that she had just invested with the man, it was real, legit, and that they should invest with him too. This was the condition upon which the investor would disburse her $5,000 return. However, she never got it. 

Last year, more than 95,000 people reported losing nearly $800,000 to social media scams. This accounted for nearly 256% of all losses due to wire fraud. The amount of money stolen is 17 times greater than it was in 2017. 

The worst part for the victim was that the scammers used her video to rope in more victims. The victims were under the impression that the woman was a part of the scam and not just another victim. Ultimately, she lost her Instagram account as a result of the scam. 

Investors can never guarantee anything, and no one is going to seek you out to make you rich, even your friends. So, it is always best to check with the friend if you are interested in the investment over the phone to ensure that is what they really think.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

David Freidberg represents the interests of those who have been charged with wire fraud in Cook County. Call today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing defense strategy immediately. 

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