U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
(504) 680-3000
August 21, 2014

California Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, and Health Care Fraud Charges

NEW ORLEANS—U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. announced that THEODORE PLATANITIS, age 44, of Rancho Cordova, California, pleaded guilty as charged yesterday before U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, to Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud and Bank Fraud.

According to court documents, PLATANITIS worked as a money mule in an organization that hacked into the e-mail accounts of victims and then used that access to cause sums of money to be wired out of the victim’s bank accounts. PLATANITIS was recruited by unknown individuals to open bank account(s) in the United States to receive fraudulent wire transfers from the bank accounts of victims.

On August 24, 2011, the office manager for a New Orleans physician (“Doctor A”) received an e-mail from Doctor A’s America Online e-mail account, requesting that the office manager wire $32,300 from Doctor A’s bank account to PLATANITIS’S bank account. In fact, it was not Doctor A who sent the e-mail, but rather another individual had taken control of Doctor A’s e-mail account, and, without Doctor A’s authorization, drafted and sent the e-mail to Doctor A’s office manager purporting to be Doctor A. Doctor A’s office manager complied with the e-mail and the money was wired to PLATANITIS’S account.

Once the deposit in the amount of approximately $32,000 had been fraudulently deposited into PLATANITIS’S account, PLATANITIS withdrew approximately $16,150 in cash and, acting upon instructions given to him, took the cash to stores with the capability of wiring money via Western Union located in Rancho Cordova, California, and wired different amounts to different locations in Malaysia in amounts not more than $5,000. Shortly thereafter, PLATANITIS returned to a bank branch and attempted to withdraw the remainder of the funds he had fraudulently obtained from Doctor A from his Bank of America business account.

PLATANITIS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. Sentencing has been scheduled for December 10, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.

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