Matthew S. Kichinka, 25, of Strongsville, Ohio, was charged with 50 counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, two counts of bankruptcy fraud, and one count of transmitting interstate communications containing threats to kill or injure another person. The government contends that between July 2004 and April 2007, Kichinka schemed to defraud Ameritrade and E*Trade, two well-known online brokerages.
Part of the scheme, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, was to transmit about 50 interstate electronic funds transfers (EFTs) from various banks to Ameritrade and E*Trade totaling approximately $3,348,000. The indictment alleges that after opening the online accounts, Kichinka placed stock purchase orders for hundreds of thousands of shares of stock before the EFTs were returned by the issuing bank as fraudulent, forcing Ameritrade and E*Trade to suffer losses of $341,113.63.
The government alleges that Kichinka used stolen identities -- names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal identifying information -- to open the 35 or so accounts.
The indictment also charges Kichinka with transmitting through interstate commerce at least four text messages threatening to kill or injure one or more people. The indictment claims that the threatening communications were transmitted by Kichinka from Ohio through a computer system located in California, to the intended recipient located in the Cleveland area.
Kichinka also is charged with two counts of bankruptcy fraud in connection with false statements he made on court filings issued in connection with a bankruptcy case filed in 2005 in the Northern District of Ohio.
The case was investigated by the FBI.
A recent Gartner study shows that 15 million Americans were victimized by identity theft in just a 12-month period. The amount of money being stolen from them is on the rise, as well, more than doubling between 2005 and 2006, Gartner analysts reported. And more of what they're losing is staying lost. The report also shows that people managed to recover 87% of what was stolen from them back in 2005, but in 2006 that number dropped to 61%.