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Computer and internet crimes: Alleged GoFundMe scammer charged

People in Michigan will likely remember the 2017 case in another state in which a man and his girlfriend scammed the public with a story about a homeless man who helped the woman by giving her his last $20 when her car ran out of gas. The trio was later accused of committing computer and internet crimes when it was determined that the feel-good story they used to get people to pay $400,000 into a GoFundMe account they established for the homeless man was a scam. All three were accused of collecting the money for personal enrichment.

The man is the last one of the trio to appear in the federal court to face charges of money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy. According to court documents, the criminal investigation arose when the accused couple and the homeless man began quarreling over the money, based on the fact that all three mistrusted each other. The homeless man's accusations of the couple withholding the funds from him might have been the first red flag for investigators.

According to the court, bank records and text messages between the couple were used to build the case against the man, and both the woman and homeless man pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the other alleged conspirators. The man also faces state charges of theft by deception and conspiracy. Reportedly, a federal conviction on wire fraud can result in a 20-year prison sentence along with a $250,000 fine, and the money laundering charges can incur another $250,000 fine and a 10-year sentence.

Anyone in similar circumstances in Michigan will likely trust in the advocacy of a criminal defense attorney who has experience in dealing with cases that involve computer and internet crimes. An attorney can launch an independent investigation on which to base a defense strategy. The details of the case will determine whether a guilty plea would be more beneficial for the defendant than proceeding to fight the charges in the court. However, whatever the chosen strategy, the attorney will always work to achieve the best possible outcome for the client.

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