A Department of Defense insider abused his access to veterans’ medical records for years to help an international fraud ring steal millions of dollars in benefits from elderly and disabled veterans, according to federal prosecutors.
An indictment unsealed Tuesday night claimed that an American citizen living in the Philippines, Robert Wayne Boling Jr., served as the ringleader of the group, teaming up with Fredrick Brown, a medical records technician at an U.S. Army garrison in South Korea who was able to pick out vulnerable targets.
Three others are alleged to have facilitated the scheme either by finding “money mules” to receive the stolen funds or gathering additional personal information on the targets to ensure everything went smoothly.
“It doesn’t matter where on this planet you reside. If you target our veterans, we’re coming for you,” U.S. Attorney John Bash said in announcing the indictment.
The fraud ring allegedly received thousands of ill-gotten benefits, including from a 76-year-old disabled veteran who had been a prisoner of war.
The men often targeted older military members because they were less likely to use online benefits tools, and disabled military members who were more likely to receive larger veterans benefits, according to the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas.
In one case, prosecutors say the conspirators drained a retired United States Air Force master sergeant’s entire bank account in less than 10 days through a series of wire transfers, amounting to $41,500 in stolen funds. They also allegedly stole $2,915 in benefits payments from the disabled veteran who had been a prisoner of war.
Over the course of five years, Boling, Brown, and the three other men “caused millions of dollars of actual and attempted losses to military-affiliated individuals, the Veterans Administration, and banks and credit unions across the United States,” the indictment says.
Brown’s position as a medical records technician is said to have been a crucial part of the scheme granting the team access to a Department of Defense database of electronic health records. Prosecutors say Brown took pictures of the medical records which also included birthdays, social security numbers, and mailing addresses.
Dropbox accounts belonging to another alleged co-conspirator, Jongmin Seok, contained photos taken by Brown of more than 3,300 military-affiliated individuals, according to a search warrant related to the case filed in California.
The men took the account and routing number information to steal money from military members and their dependents’ bank accounts. Additionally, the conspirators would access the service member’s eBenefits accounts and substitute their own bank account, so that any benefits payments would be paid directly to them.
The men allegedly went beyond stealing account information in one case and gathered personal information about the family members of a military dependent they were using as a “money mule” to move $16,520 in stolen funds. When Boling became concerned that the “money mule” was not sending the money quickly enough, prosecutors say, Brown allegedly used health records to find information about the man’s family members “for the purpose of threatening” them so that he would send the money.
The fraud went undetected for more than three years until a loss prevention analyst at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service grew concerned that multiple new credit card accounts were being made and then subsequently used for travel to the Philippines and Indonesia. The ring was allegedly still active even after the indictment was filed on July 23. Three weeks ago, authorities allege that approximately $12,500 was transferred out of a fraud victim’s account into a money mule’s bank.
Boling and an unnamed co-conspirator were arrested in the Philippines on Aug. 6. Brown was picked up by law enforcement on Aug. 14 in Nevada.
The men were charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and multiple counts of aggravated identity theft.