Pennsylvanian Personal Loan Fraudsters Plead Guilty
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UPDATED: Feb 9, 2021
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The FBI has charged Scott Lonzinski of Clifford Township, Pennsylvania and his mother Laura Conarton of Great Bend, Pennsylvania with the felony crime of bank fraud. Both pled guilty to the charges in District Court, according to an FBI press release.
“Clearly when the authorities came in, I evaluated the situation and realized there was no legal defense for this. All signs pointed to who the perpetrators of that were. There was no sense in fighting it,” said Lonzinski’s attorney, Joe D’Andrea of Dunmore in a Citizens Voice interview.
Both Lonzinski and Conarton admitted that from July of 2009 to February of 2011, they conducted an illegal fraud operation by borrowing ten personal loans, valued at over $14 million. All of the personal loans were borrowed from the Broome County Teacher’s Federal Credit Union (BCT).
“These kinds of cases cause great financial hardship to individuals, to institutions. This is a serious matter for law enforcement and we will continue to work together to uncover it,” said United States Attorney Rick Hartunian in a YNN interview.
In their fraudulent criminal operation, Lonzinski and Conarton fabricated bank statements, forged signatures, and created a false persona. This scheme was intended to convince the BCT that Certificates of Deposit held at the People’s National Bank by Lonzinski had a value equal to the personal loans he sought to borrow.
“The subjects in this case, their actions were similar to a Ponzi scheme, so they take someone’s money and pay them back some interest, in reality they are only paying back a small portion of the funds that have been stolen,” said Special Agent Clifford Holly from the Albany Division of the FBI in a Your News Now interview.
Through the course of their operations, Lonzinski and Conarton used the illegally obtained personal loans to fund a construction business owned by Lonzinski. Aside from purchasing vehicles for this construction business, the funds also were used to remodel Lonzinski’s home. Funds were also used to purchase personal automobiles—including luxury cars—for Lonzinski, Conarton and their family members. Some funds also paid for business and personal expenses.
Lonzinski’s and Conarton’s bank accounts, property and vehicles —along with over $5 million in cash and property— were seized by the FBI.
Both Lonzinski and Conarton could face up to 30 years’ in prison along with a maximum fine of $1 million for their crimes. The sentencing for both of the accused is scheduled for December.
The FBI’s involvement in this personal loans fraud investigation is part of an ongoing effort to combat financial fraud across the nation. Over the last two years the United States Attorney’s Office has investigated and solved four separate financial fraud cases that each accounted for over one million dollars. Two other investigated cases involved fraud of over $7 million.
Giving a stern warning to potential criminals, Hartunian said in a press release, “The road to financial ruin is paved by schemers who think they are just sly enough to take the money, line their pockets, and make enough to satisfy obligations before they are caught. But people suffer, often losing their savings, their retirement, or the money they need to meet expenses. We are dedicated to combating financial fraud, both to protect and assist those who are or would be victimized and to stop the far-reaching effects that undermine our financial system.”