Ex- Vegas payment processing firm chief guilty in fraud case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A British man who lived in Las Vegas and Texas has pleaded guilty in U.S. court in Nevada to bilking hundreds of thousands of victims out of at least $11 million, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Gareth David Long acknowledged that he abused personal and financial information obtained through his Las Vegas-based payment processing firm, V Internet Corp, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jody Hunt said in a statement.

Long acknowledged drawing money from checking accounts of more than 375,000 victims without authorization during a six-month period in 2013, and having employees tell victims they had authorized the charges in connection with an online payday loan application.

Prosecutors said evidence showed thousands more transactions totaling another $11 million were rejected by victims' banks.

Long, 40, could face more than seven years in federal prison for his felony fraud and identity theft convictions.

Long was indicted in March on a 39-count indictment accusing him of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. His plea avoided a trial.

Prosecutors say the company operated from 2008 through 2013. It also used the names Altcharge and Check Process, and Long registered the payday consumer loan websites fastloanfast.com, loan4utoday.com and fastloan4me.com.

U.S. postal inspectors reported seizing more than $2.9 million from Long's company bank accounts.

The government also sought to confiscate a residential property in Cedar Hill, Texas, three airplanes, cars, a firetruck and construction and farm equipment that authorities said was purchased with proceeds of fraudulent activity.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon scheduled sentencing Feb. 20.