Gareth David Long, 37, a British man living in Las Vegas, USA, was indicted by a Nevada grand jury on 39 charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.
Long's criminal activity started in 2008 when he founded V Internet Corp LLC, a third-party payments processing company that operated under the "Altcharge" and "Check Process" brands.
For five years, he operated the business legally, intermediating payments for clients making online purchases.
"Long stole more than $22 million"
Things took a criminal turn in January 2013. Using data acquired through his third-party processing company (V Internet Corp LLC) and from spreadsheets purchased online that contained customer financial information, Long deposited more than 750,000 RCCs totaling more than $22 milli on (?19.7 million) in the names of US citizens.
RCCs (Remotely Created Checks) are orders of payment created by authorized payment companies in the name of its clients that do not require a client signature, and which are generally used in per-telephone or Internet-based payment systems.
Long abused his right as an authorized online payments processor to siphon cash from customer accounts, usually in $30 (?27) payments. For some clients, Long also made subsequent withdrawals, recording them as recurring payments.
US authorities are saying that half of these illegal payments were blocked by account holders who noticed the illegal transaction, or because they were being withdrawn from non-existent accounts or accounts with no funds.
Authorities discovered Long after investigating the high number of illegal transactions made through one bank, CommerceWest Bank. The bank eventually reached a civil and criminal settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
"Long used the money to buy five airplanes"
US DOJ was also helped by the US Postal Inspection Service, who seized more than $2.9 million (?2.6 million) from Long's company bank accounts at CommerceWest Bank.
Investigators revealed that Long used the rest of the stolen money to purchase five airplanes, a Land Rover, a Dodge Charger, multiple tractors, five ATVs and even a fire truck.
To recover other damages, authorities are also seeking the forfeiture of a house and other properties Long purchased in Cedar Hill, Texas. More details are available in Long's official indictment.