Big Sky Roundup

Florida man pleads guilty to wire fraud, stealing $150,000 from elderly Montanan after FBI sting

By: - September 2, 2023 8:04 am

Photo illustration by Getty Images.

A Florida man pleaded guilty to wire fraud after participating in a hacking scheme that stole $150,000 from an elderly Montana woman and being caught by authorities in a sting operation.

According to a Montana U.S. Attorney’s Office press release, Eddly Joseph, 43, of Gainesville, Fla., pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court last week and faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

The government argues this crime was part of a larger criminal enterprise out of India stealing money from elderly people in the U.S. by making it seem like their computers were “hacked” and then convincing victims they needed to “safekeep” their money so hackers wouldn’t have access to it – and then they would steal it.

A 73-year-old Kalispell woman, Jane Doe, fell victim to the scheme after Joseph and co-defendant Sukhdev Vaid, of India, used a popup to make it seem that her computer had been hacked– providing a number to call for “customer support.” She called, and Vaid and Joseph told Doe to withdraw money to keep it safe at the “Fed,” and Doe gave more than $150,000.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation set up an operation where Doe pretended to have an additional $50,000 in cash. Joseph traveled to Montana, along with Vaid, to steal the money from Jane Doe and 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 pending trial.

As part of his plea agreement, Joseph said he would pay complete restitution. Spokesperson for the Montana U.S. Attorney’s Office Clair Howard said restitution is typically determined at sentencing.

Joseph was released on conditions pending further proceedings. Sentencing for Joseph was set for Dec. 20.

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