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Woman who led fraud ring that included JBLM soldiers pleads guilty

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on Jan. 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm with No Comments »
January 15, 2013 12:13 pm

A 30-year-old woman pleaded guilty today in Pierce County Superior Court to participating in a fraud ring that used money purloined from an Ohio bank to pay off the debts of nearly 2,000 people, including more than 75 Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers.

Jannie Lee now is convicted of criminal profiteering, first-degree identity theft, first-degree theft and two counts of second-degree identity theft. She is to be sentenced Feb. 15 and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Lee did not admit wrongdoing as part of her plea bargain, but prosecutors contend she was the leader of a ring that skimmed $3.8 million from a commercial banking account she illegally accessed, court records show.

Lee used the money to pay off credit card balances and other bills for people recruited into the scheme. Tacoma Public Utilities and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service were among the creditors bilked in the operation.

So-called “customers” would pay Lee half the amount of their balances, either in cash or in electronic merchandise such as iPads or cameras, the records show.

The fraud played out for more than two years before the company that owned the account caught on in 2011.

Lee reportedly recruited others into the scheme, including JBLM soldiers, through MySpace, Craigslist, Facebook or at barbecues and other get-togethers, records show.

The Army eventually identified 78 soldiers who took part in one fashion or another. Some were prosecuted in military courts, some were discharged from the Army and others faced internal discipline.

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