Monday, March 21, 2022

Chinese Call Center "Runner" Pleads Guilty in Georgia

This week the Department of Justice received a guilty plea from Jianjie Liu, a Chinese citizen living in Texas.

In Call Center Frauds, there are many roles to be played.  One of these roles is often referred to as "Runner." When people in other countries are the ones running the phones and Facebook accounts used in fraud, they often need someone in the United States to pick up packages and open bank accounts.  From that perspective, Liu was a Runner.

The case began when Liu was arrested at a Walmart in Duluth, Georgia after attempting to purchase "a suspicious number of gift cards."  During that arrest, her 2016 black Nissan Altima was searched, and was found to have 718 gift cards, mostly WalMart, Vanilla Mastercard, and American Express gift cards. he also had a deposit slip showing that she controlled a JP Morgan Chase Bank account ending in #5887. The bank account was tied to her business license in Gwinnett County, Georgia fro "A&J Commercial Services" which used an address at 16634 Roseglade Drive, Cypress, TX 77429. 

The 16,000 images on her phone were reviewed, and found to contain many images of gift cards along with their accompanying purchase receipts. 

From May 30, 2019 until September 30, 2019, Liu deposited at least $70,400 into her Chase account from elderly fraud victims.  Those funds were all seized by the U.S. Secret Service, however there were many other victims and victim types described in the court records:

In a "Government Grant Scam" an elderly "J.B." received a message from a Facebook friend, who told him about a $150,000 government grant he could receive.  He sent $2,500 cash to an address in Heath, Ohio; 4,000 to an address in Atlanta, Georgia; $4,500 to an address in Newark, New Jersey, and was later instructed to purchase gift cards at a Walmart in Washington and message them to "Agent Walter" (which were then forwarded to Liu, who used those cards to purchase OTHER gift cards!)

In an "Inheritance Scam" a woman using a Facebook account in the name "Fola V. Williams Fly" asked a 64-year old man from Cheyenne, Wyoming to help her receive a multi-million dollar inheritance by paying various fees.  He sent two cashier's checks for $10,000 each payable to Jianjie Liu at the address 3182 Steve Reynolds Blvd, #105, Duluth, GA 30096. 

In a "Computer Support Scam" someone claiming to be "Allen Johnson" from Microsoft took control of a victim's computer, claiming he needed remote access to her bank account to process a $300 refund.  Instead he pretended to deposit $3,000, claiming it was in error.  He then asked the victim to refund $2,600 of the erroneous funds, by sending three money orders to Liu in Duluth, Georgia. 

An identical process was used by someone claiming to refund $555, but "accidentally" depositing $20,555 instead.  The victim, an 89-year old priest in St. Paul, Minnesota, sent the "accidental" $20,000 via cashier's check to Joy Liu, A&J Commercial Services, 3182 Steve Reynolds Blvd, Duluth, GA.

In a "Grandparent Scam" "Sergeant Jonathan Parker" called one of the elderly victims claiming their teenaged grandson had been arrested for assaulting a police officer and was required to post $9,000 bail.  He sent a box with $9,000 cash in it to an address in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Days later, Sergeant Parker demanded an additional $15,000 to settle the matter out of court.  He again sent a box of cash to Las Vegas.  Then he was asked to send $5,000 to pay the medical bills of "Officer Joyce Phillips" and this time sent a personal check to "Joyce Phillips" of A&J Commercial Services, 3182 Steve Reynolds Boulevard, Duluth, GA 30096. 

In a "Compromised SSN Scam" another elderly victim was told he was being investigated by the IRS, and that during the investigation, to protect his funds, he needed to convert all of his cash to Gift Cards, which would be held in escrow pending the results of the investigation.  These gift cards were used by Liu to purchase the gift cards in the Walmart in Duluth, Georgia. 

Liu posted $10,000 bail, and shockingly, failed to appear in court again.  

She was re-arrested in Pearland, Texas on 06JAN2021 for theft, where it was discovered that she had an outstanding warrant.

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