Man charged with using cartoon names to defraud brokerages

California man allegedly opened 58,000 online accounts and stole about $50,000

A California man was arraigned this week in federal court in Sacramento on multiple counts of computer fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud for allegedly opening 58,000 fake brokerage accounts.

Michael Largent, 22, of Plumas Lake, Calif., was charged with using false Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and names -- even the names of cartoon and comic book characters -- to open the accounts.

He used the accounts to steal so-called micro-deposits of a few cents to a few dollars deposited by brokerage firms into new accounts to verify that users can access them. Prosecutors charge that the scam netted Largent about $50,000 in the course of six months.

According to documents from the U.S. Department of Justice, Largent allegedly defrauded ETrade, Charles Schwab & Co. and other businesses using this scheme between November 2007 and May 2008.

When the micro-deposits were made, Largent allegedly transferred or attempted to transfer the funds into his bank accounts and onto prepaid debit cards. This was allegedly done without the companies' knowledge or authorization.

According to the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of California, both ETrade and Charles Schwab detected the alleged fraud and contacted law enforcement. The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI.

If convicted, Largent could face up to 25 years in federal prison. Now out on bail, he is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on June 19, according to a spokesperson for the court.

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