A California man has pleaded guilty to stealing up to $50,000 from online brokerages by opening thousands of accounts using the names of cartoon characters.
Michael Largent of Plumas Lake, California, wrote a computer script to fraudulently open over 58,000 online brokerage accounts with false names, addresses and social security numbers at E*Trade, Schwab and elsewhere between November 2007 and May 2008.
Among the names he used were Johnny Blaze from Marvel Comic's Ghost Rider and Rusty Shackelford and Hank Hill from cartoon series King of the Hill.
Largent's script targeted the micro-deposits made by financial institutions when testing the functionality of a new account. The amounts deposited range from $0.01 to $2.00.
When the deposits occurred, Largent would transfer the funds into his own bank accounts or onto prepaid debit cards.
Sentencing is set for 13 August, 2009. The mail fraud and wire fraud charges carry a maximum penalty under federal law of 20 years in prison. The computer fraud charges carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.