Five people have been indicted in federal court in the Western District of Texas on charges of participating in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from benefits reserved for military members, U.S. Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.

Robert Wayne Boling Jr., Frederick Brown, Torice Crawford, Allan Albert Kerr and Jongmin Seok have been indicted on 14 charges including conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, officials said. The group was based in the U.S. and in the Philippines, officials said.

Justice Department officials said the scheme began in 2014 when Brown was working as a civilian employee at a U.S. Army installation. There, officials said he stole the names, birth dates, social security numbers and Department of Defense identification numbers from thousands of military members.

Officials said Brown then gave the information to Boling, who used the information with Kerr and Seok, who were based in the Philippines. They used the information to get into online portals and take more data to access bank accounts of military members and steal veterans' benefi payments, officials said.

One of the websites the group broke into was hosted by the Veterans Administration in the Western District of Texas, which includes the areas of Austin, San Antonio, Waco, Del Rio, El Paso and other territory stretching from Central to West Texas, the indictment says.

Boling and Crawford are accused of recruiting people that would accept bank deposits with the stolen money and then send it through an international wire to Boling, Kerr, Seok, Brown and Crawford. Some of the recruited people were based in San Antonio, the indictment says.

Officials found evidence of the scheme earlier this year and began an investigation.

Boling, Kerr and Seok were arrested in the Philippines, Brown was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada and Crawford was arrested in San Diego, California.

“Our message is pretty simple,” said John Bash, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas. “It doesn't matter where on this planet you reside. If you target our veterans, we're coming for you. Our veterans were willing to risk everything to protect this nation from foreign threats. Now it's our turn to seek justice for them.”


©2019 Austin American-Statesman, Texas. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.