The accused used false or stolen identities to defraud businesses of more than $200 million, reports USA Today. The feds say the group started small in one state in 2003 and grew into an operation in 28 states and overseas. By 2012, they were allegedly using more than 7,000 fake identities with more than 25,000 credit cards around the world.
They allegedly used the fraudulently obtained credit to purchase expensive goods, gold, cars and to transmit money overseas. While the indictment says the amount is $200 million, authorities said they won’t be surprised if that climbs after further investigation.
A minimum of 13 of the 18 people accused are in federal custody Tuesday. If convicted, they could face penalties of up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines on each count. There was no word about other five suspects’ whereabouts.