FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – They employed a wide range of complex schemes to rip off victims via the internet.
At various times they used business email compromise, military and romance schemes as well as Small Business Administration loan fraud in their attempts to bilk victims out of money – and they targeted a local car dealership for over $130,000 with the intent of getting more than $5 million from others.
Now, a Minnesota woman is facing federal charges here in Fort Wayne for her role in the scams coordinated by multiple people that may have been used throughout the country.
U.S. District Court prosecutors have charged Kirsten M. Blackwell with multiple felony counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and forfeiture and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and forfeiture. Blackwell, whose age was not given, is facing decades in prison if convicted.
Her co-conspirators have not yet been named in court documents.
Police arrested Blackwell in Minnesota this week and are holding her without bond because she “is a danger to the community and a flight risk,” federal court documents said.
According to court documents, Blackwell established a Minnesota business named K&K Consulting in 2019 and another business called H&B Consulting in 2021.
In April 2021, an unidentified local car dealership planned to invest in technology from a golf technology company with headquarters in Denmark but with offices all over the United States, federal court documents said.
Employees from the car dealership exchanged emails with employees from the golf company in April 2021, but at some point in the middle of that month – either April 14 or April 15 – spoofed emails that appeared to be from the golf company showed up in the car dealership employees emails.
Shortly thereafter, a wire transfer from the local car dealership to what was believed to be the golf company occurred, investigators wrote in court documents. The total of this transfer was $132,498, court documents said.
Instead of going to the golf company, all of these funds went to a bank account controlled by Blackwell, prosecutors said in court documents.
Afterward, Blackwell is accused of using all or some of these funds to purchase cryptocurrency located overseas, according to court documents.
A few months later, Blackwell and other members of the conspiracy ring involved created “fraudulent invoices and contracts, purportedly signed by a representative of (the car dealership) and representatives of other companies victimized in (business loan) scams, to make the source of funds for Blackwell’s purchases of cryptocurrency appear as legitimate business income,” court documents said.
It’s not yet clear how far reaching the conspiracy ring was or how many businesses were affected. It’s also not entirely clear about Blackwell’s involvement in other parts of the conspiracy ring’s scams, including the romance and military schemes.
Blackwell will likely be extradited to Indiana to face these federal charges, according to court documents.