A former employee at an unnamed New Jersey mortgage company admitted in court late last week that she stole $2 million from the company by using company computers to reroute escrow checks meant for borrowers to her friends and family.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, Dilcia Mercedes pleaded guilty last week to one count of unauthorized access of a computer with intent to defraud and one count of money laundering.
Court documents show that from April 2014 to May 2017, Mercedes worked for an unnamed mortgage lender as a payment processor, and as such, she had access to the company’s computer system.
In this role, Mercedes discovered that some escrow checks sent to borrowers were returned to the company as undeliverable. As part of her guilty plea, Mercedes admitted that she would monitor those funds by checking monthly reports to see if the money was ever claimed.
If the money went unclaimed, Mercedes would use company computers to make it appear like the customer had requested that the money be sent via wire transfer into their bank account.
But the bank accounts in question didn’t belong to the customers.
Rather, Mercedes recruited various family members and friends to allow her to use their bank accounts as the “borrower’s” bank account.
Mercedes also used her family members’ and friends’ identities to open reloadable debit/credit accounts.
So, once the money went unclaimed, Mercedes would set up a transfer from the company’s bank account one of the accounts or cards controlled by her family and friends.
Mercedes then approved the transfer by logging back into the company’s system using a co-worker’s login and password.
In total, Mercedes oversaw approximately 580 fraudulent wire transfers, totaling more than $2 million, from her company’s account to accounts and reloadable cards controlled by Mercedes’ associates.
Mercedes then used the money to pay personal expenses.
After pleading guilty, Mercedes now faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the count of accessing a protected computer without authorization to defraud, and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 for the count of money laundering.
Mercedes is due to be sentenced on Sept. 23, 2019.