SAN ANTONIO – Federal prosecutors say five people have been arrested on charges they obtained Social Security numbers and other identifying information to steal millions of dollars from mostly elderly and disabled veterans.
Authorities say the five face several charges including aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and conspiracy.
The defendants, Robert Wayne Boling Jr., Fredrick Brown, Trorice Crawford, Allan Albert Kerr, and Jongmin Seok, were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identify theft based on their alleged leading roles in the theft and exploitation of personal identifying information to conduct their fraud scheme.
Boling, a U.S. citizen, Kerr, an Australian citizen, and Seok, a South Korean citizen, were arrested in the Philippines. Brown and Crawford, both U.S. citizens, were arrested in Las Vegas and San Diego respectively.
Brown has been detained pending trial. Crawford is awaiting a detention hearing.
Robert Wayne Boling Jr. is identified in an indictment unsealed Wednesday in San Antonio as the scheme's mastermind.
The indictment says the scheme began in 2014 when Brown, who was a civilian employee at a U.S. Army installation, stole identifying information for thousands of military service personnel that was used to access benefits and steal from bank accounts.
"Our message is pretty simple," said U.S. Attorney John Bash. "It doesn't matter where on this planet you reside. If you target our veterans, we're coming for you. Our veterans were willing to risk everything to protect this Nation from foreign threats. Now it's our turn to seek justice for them."
Brown is alleged to have then provided the stolen information to Boling, who exploited the information in various ways together with his Philippines-based co-defendants Kerr and Seok.
"VA is working with DoD to identify any instances of compromised VA benefits accounts," said James Hutton, VA assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. "Just as importantly, VA has taken steps to protect Veterans' data and are instituting additional protective measures."
It's not clear whether Boling has an attorney.