Credit union employee Indira Mohabir found guilty of fraud committed during online romance

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An Orange County, California resident of Indian origin who used her position at a Hawthorne-based credit union to secretly open more than 25 fraudulent lines of credit for her online boyfriend, has been found guilty of 15 federal charges, including fraud and conspiracy.

Indira Mohabir, 42, of La Palma, was found guilty Dec. 17, after a three-day jury trial, of extending more than $2.5 million to her online boyfriend. The jury found Mohabir guilty on all 15 counts in a grand jury indictment, which charged her with one count of conspiracy to commit insider fraud and financial institution fraud, eight counts of insider fraud on a federally-insured financial institution and six counts of financial institution fraud.

She is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. on April 5, 2019. Mohabir faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison on the conspiracy count and a maximum of 30 years in prison for each of the fraud charges, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Criminal charges are still pending against Phillip Cook, 51, who currently lives in Las Vegas, and who was able to withdraw approximately $1 million of the illicitly obtained funds before the scheme was discovered, the press release said.

The scheme started in late November 2014 and lasted about two months, but most of the credit lines were established – or were doubled – over a few days in January 2015.

Mohabir, who worked as a business loan processor at Western Federal Credit Union, now doing business as Unify Financial Credit Union, began a romantic online relationship with Cook in approximately November 2014, according to text messages and emails that were introduced at trial. Although the two did not meet in person during the relevant time period, they quickly began daily correspondence by text, email and phone, exchanging messages and talking multiple times a day.

Their romantic discussions were interwoven with discussions of how to open credit lines at the credit union, and Mohabir agreed to use her position to help Cook open these credit lines, investigators found.

According to testimony from Mohabir’s supervisors and a fraud investigator at the credit union, which was corroborated by bank records, Mohabir opened lines of credit outside of her authority and without the necessary approvals from the credit union, and she overrode and bypassed the credit union’s internal controls to get the credit lines opened.

In exchange, Cook promised to take Mohabir on exotic trips, and he sent her flowers and money, including a $50,000 check drawn on the credit lines that she opened for him – a check that was intercepted at the credit union, according to evidence introduced at trial and court documents, the press release said.

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