COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Over a 15-month-period, $380,786.36 was deposited in Ohio inmates’ commissary accounts. Investigators are examining what one local expert calls an alleged money laundering scheme.
NBC4 dug into where the money came from and who benefited from it.
Investigators say deposits from visitors using stolen credit cards were input into inmates accounts through prison machine called GlobalTel Link (GTL), along with online deposits.
Between January 20-15 to May 20-16 multiple deposits of 200 dollars each were allegedly put into 46 prisoner’s accounts throughout 14 prisons. An audit of the GTL accounts turned up not only the $380,786, it also tracked $123,840.23 of that money then withdrawal from these accounts and sent out via cashier’s checks from the institutions.
“It is a whole host of offenses, money laundering, credit card fraud, identity theft, theft and wire fraud,” said Dave Thomas.
Thomas an attorney with Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLC, is not involved in the investigation, but has handled many large credit card fraud cases.
“Today there is vast black market in stolen credit card numbers and stolen personal information. And the fact this information was being trafficked around the state prison system highlights that,” Thomas said.
He said this scheme should be a wake-up call for consumer credit card holders and especially state prison authorities.
“To take a look at they are regulating the handling of money for inmates and how they interacting with the venders that help with that,” Thomas said.
Court documents states the fraud allegedly works when one inmate gives another $100 and receives $200 back on his commissary account via stolen credit card numbers. They are then deposited into a vender account for cash, resulting in a loss of funds for the vender.
Authorities say three inmates and a woman who lives in Cincinnati may be behind the entire operation, but so far, no charges have been filed.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigative Unit is in charge of the investigation, but Because it is still an active investigation they are releasing very little information. OSHP investigates all crimes within state