Five people from New York are facing federal charges for a scam in the Youngstown area.
According to the federal indictment, the suspects defrauded a 69-year-old victim of money and property by making false statements about fictitious fees associated with purported loans and by obtaining titles to property owned by the victim.
The nine-count indictment charges Haki Toplica, 24, Luisa Rivera Goris, 22, Kathryn Lissette De La Torre, 24, Haider Islam, 21, and Robert Russo, 27, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.
Prosecutors say Toplica identified himself as another man, saying he could secure loans for the victim. In order to obtain the loans, Toplica told the victim that he would have to pay fees, according to the indictment.
The indictment says Goris and De La Torre used their accounts to receive wire payments from the victim, while Goris prepared titles and false invoices.
Prosecutors say Toplica told the victim around June 2018 that in order to obtain a $475,000 loan to pay off his creditors, the victim would have to pay fees associated with the loan via wire.
A month later, Toplica told the victim that the victim would have to pay a $100,000 fee to obtain a $3 million loan.
In each instance, the fees were fictitious, and the victim had been told that he was denied for the loans, according to the indictment.
In August 2018, the victim signed over approximately 55 vehicles and equipment to Toplica to secure a $10 million loan that did not exist, according to the indictment.
During this time, Toplica exchanged text messages with Russo about the money and titles, according to the indictment.
The indictment says Russo met Toplica at a bus station in Youngstown to drive Toplica’s vehicle to New York while Toplica and Goris drove the victim’s Mustang from Youngstown to New York.
The indictment states that Islam was also implicated in the scam via text messages.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted in a Northern District of Ohio court.
Toplica is currently being held in the Mahoning County Jail, where he was booked on September 26.