A former Army civilian employee pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing personal information of thousands of U.S. military service members and veterans as part of a scheme to obtain millions of dollars in military benefits.
Frederick Brown, 38, is a former civilian medical records administrator for the U.S. Army with the 65th Medical Brigade in Yongsan Garrison in South Korea. During his Tuesday court appearance to plead guilty, Brown admitted he took photos of personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers and DoD ID numbers, from thousands of U.S. service members and veterans when he was logged into the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, the Justice Department said in a news release Wednesday.
Brown, who is from Las Vegas and was also arrested there, said that the information was obtained between July 2014 to September 2015.
The information was then funneled to one of his co-defendants, Robert Wayne Boling Jr., so the information could tap into millions of dollars in Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs benefits, according to Brown.
Brown pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. He could face up to 20 years behind bars for each conspiracy charge, per the the Justice Department.
His sentencing is slated for Feb. 6, 2019, in San Antonio. In the meantime, he is being kept in federal custody.
Although it’s not immediately clear exactly how many victims were impacted in the scheme, the Justice Department said Wednesday it is working with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to “notify and provide resources to the thousands of identified victims.”
“Announcements also will follow regarding steps taken to secure military members’ information and benefits from theft and fraud,” the Justice Department said in a news release.
A Pentagon spokesperson told Military Times that all known victims affected were contacted by the Justice Department in late September. Letters issued to the victims were provided information from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans affairs that outlined ways to reduce or mitigate potential identity theft.
The Department of Veterans Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Military Times.
Brown was one of several indicted in July as part of the fraudulent plot. Boling, a U.S. citizen, was also charged, as were Allan Albert Kerr and Jongmin Seok based in the Philippines. Boling then worked with Kerr, an Australian citizen, and Seok, a South Korean citizen, to use the information and access benefits information through a Department of Defense portal, according to the indictment.
“Access to these detailed records enabled the defendants to steal or attempt to steal millions of dollars from military members’ bank accounts,” the Justice Department said. “The defendants also stole veterans’ benefits payments.”
The indictment also alleged that Boling then partnered up with U.S. citizen Trorice Crawford to reroute the money to the defendants and others.
Boling, Kerr and Seok are in custody and the Philippines, where they will remain until they are transferred to the Western District of Texas. Separately, Crawford is also in federal custody.