A La Palma woman who secretly opened $2.7 million in fraudulent credit lines for her online boyfriend, while working at a credit union, was found guilty of 15 federal charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
Following a three-day trial, a jury convicted 42-year-old Indira Mohabir of more than a dozen charges including fraud and conspiracy on Monday. She will be sentenced on April 5.
For each of the fraud charges, she faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison, according to federal prosecutors. She also faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison for the fraud charge.
The boyfriend, 51-year-old Las Vegas resident Phillip Cook, was able to withdraw about $1 million of the fraudulently obtained funds before authorities caught on, according to federal prosecutors. The criminal charges against him are still pending.
With Mohabir agreeing to open the credit lines and keep them hidden, Cook promised to give her other things in exchange, according to prosecutors.
“Cook promised to take Mohabir on exotic trips, and he sent her flowers and money, including a $50,000 check drawn on the credit lines that she opened for him,” a statement from the DOJ reads.
That same check was intercepted at the credit union, according to prosecutors and evidence presented at trial.
Mohabir was working at Hawthorne-based Western Federal Credit Union as a business loan processor at the time of the scheme, prosecutors said. The company now does business as Unify Financial Credit Union.
During the trial, prosecutors presented text messages and emails that trace the beginning of Mohabir and Cook’s romantic relationship back to November 2014, according to the DOJ.
Their scheme started in late November 2014 and lasted roughly two months, but prosecutors said most of the credit lines were established over just a few days in January 2015.
“Although the two did not meet in person during the relevant time period, they quickly began daily correspondence by text, email and phone, exchanging messages and talking multiple times a day,” a statement from the DOJ reads.
Within the romantic exchanges were also discussions about how credit lines are opened at Mohabir’s place of work and how she could open them using her position there, according to federal prosecutors.
She later opened the lines without the necessary approval from the credit union and through means outside her authority, according to prosecutors who cited bank records and testimony from her supervisors and a fraud investigator at the company.
“She overrode and bypassed the credit union’s internal controls to get the credit lines opened,” the DOJ statement reads.
Mohabir was convicted of criminal charges including eight counts of insider fraud on a federally-insured financial institution, six counts of financial institution fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit insider fraud and financial institution fraud.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, along with assistance from the Hawthorne Police Department.