Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 10:32 a.m.
On-the-ball U.S. Postal Inspection Service officers based in the Long Beach/Orange County region have arrested a 59-year-old woman for her alleged participation in an international banking fraud scheme.
Court records show that law enforcement officials believe Sophia Constandinou Katsamagas was one of ten members of a 3-year-old underworld operation that targeted Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America, Comerica Bank and Bank of the West.
According to a complaint filed this month by Postal Inspector Emily Yanis-Fermin, the conspirators operating from Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and Las Vegas opened bank accounts and spent money in Greece for hotels, restaurants and merchandise without any intention of paying.
But before the purchases had a chance to clear the banks in the United States the thieves allegedly emptied the bank accounts.
"When the authorized transactions from Greece come through to the American banks, the banks have to honor the authorizations," according to Yanis-Fermin. "With no money in the business checking accounts because the money had been transferred out, the business checking account balances become overdrawn."
Investigators are accusing Katsamagas, a Granada Hills resident, of involvement in the scam that relied on the following account names including: Brentwood Home Designs, Brentwood Plans & Permits, Brentwood Cabinetry, Brentwood Doors, Brentwood Landscaping, Brentwood Paint, Brentwood Flooring, Brentwood Plumbing, Brentwood Roofing and Brentwood Tile.
Also named in the complaint are Spiro Katsamagas, Areti Vamvakaris, Leonardos Vamvakaris, Ekaterini Sfakiotis, Vassilios Lykourezos, Dimitrios Koutes, Theocharis Bays, Theodoros Kousoulis, Dimitrios Iliopoulis and Spiros Gennatos.
Federal officials report that Katsamagas is under their custody today while locked inside the Santa Ana Jail.