A California-based, international fraud scheme that duped four financial institutions has landed a 60-year-old woman in federal prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton Tucker ordered Sophia Katsamagas to serve a term of 27 months for her managing role in the criminal enterprise that resulted in the arrests of 11 individuals in Nov. 2012.
According to a U.S. Postal Service inspector's report, the thieves opened at least 98 business bank accounts with minimum deposits at Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America, Comerica Bank and Bank of the West. After receiving ATM cards for the accounts, they made large dollar purchases in Greece, received authorizations for the purchases and, before the transactions could be fully processed, emptied the bank accounts.
The scam caused the banks to lose more than $2 million.
Katsamagas pleaded guilty in April inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
It's not clear what punishment Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer L. Waier advocated because she enticed Judge Tucker to seal numerous records in the case before the Aug. 30 sentencing.
Katsamagas, who was held in custody without pre-conviction bail and must pay restitution, is presently housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.