A former US Army contractor has been sentenced for stealing data belonging to the military to conduct benefit fraud, leading to the theft of millions of dollars.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) named Fredrick Brown of Las Vegas, Nevada, as a former medical records technician who had access to the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, an electronic records system used to manage military-affiliated medical records.
Between July 2014 and September 2015, the 40-year-old stole the personal identifying information (PII) of over 3,300 individuals, including "at least eight general officers, as well as numerous disabled veterans," the DoJ says.
Military dependents and civilian employees of the Department of Defense (DoD) were also involved in the security breach.
Disabled veterans were targeted due to their "receipt of greater service-related benefits," US prosecutors added.
After accessing the system, in order to get around security protocols, Brown took screenshots of his computer screen and these copied records were passed on to other members of the ring. Information including names, Social Security numbers, military IDs, dates of birth, and contact information was stolen.
There are four co-conspirators, the DoJ says, and this valuable data was transferred to co-defendant Robert Wayne Boling, who is based in the Philippines, and others.
The PII was enough to be used to fraudulently apply for benefits through DoD and Veterans Affairs services. In total, financial losses experienced by the victims are estimated to be at least $1.5 million.
Brown pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in October 2019. He has now been sentenced to 151 months (12.5 years) behind bars.
The judge presiding the sentencing, Chief Judge Orlando Garcia of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, also requires Brown to pay back $2,331,639.85 in restitution and to submit to three years of supervised release.
Boling and another suspect, Trorice Crawford, allegedly recruited individuals to act as money mules who would accept the funds and transfer them on. Crawford has been sentenced to 46 months in prison and has been ordered to pay back over $100,000.
"The defendant brazenly preyed on and victimized US servicemembers and veterans, many of whom were disabled and elderly," commented US Attorney Ashley Hoff. "As part of our mission, we strive to protect these honorable men and women from fraud and abuse. If fraudsters target our servicemembers and veterans, we will seek to identify them and hold them accountable."
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