A dozen men and women behind an elaborate scheme to steal money through check fraud were sentenced this week to prison terms ranging from probation to nearly five years and ordered to pay restitution.
The scheme, involving several people from the same Spartanburg family, has played out in Spartanburg since 2005 and might be continuing still, U.S. Assistant Attorney Bill Watkins said.
“The investigation is not over,” he said.
Hope Serena Mitchell, 41, of Spartanburg, and three other people are characterized as the leaders of the scheme and received the toughest sentences. The others were followers or played minor roles.
As described by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the scheme involved recruiters and recruits who worked together to create bank accounts for the sole purpose of making overdraft purchases blamed on fictitious criminals. Liability for the fake fraudulent purchases was waived. The purchased items could then be sold for profit.