EBay laptop fraud case widens

Friday, 10 October 2003, 2:33 PM EST

In what prosecutors say is the nation's marquee cyber fraud case, a federal grand jury has handed up a new indictment against a Utah man for allegedly bilking hundreds of would-be eBay laptop computer buyers.

The 54-count superceding indictment adds 40 counts of mail fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, three counts credit union fraud and one count of failure to file a tax return to two earlier counts of using a false Social Security number to set up bank accounts.

"This case is the biggest domestic Internet fraud case in the country," U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch said Thursday. "This is something we take very seriously. People buy something on eBay auctions and pay for it, and as the indictment alleges, it was never delivered."

Russell Dana Smith, also known as John P. Leary, had pleaded innocent to the Social Security allegations during a June arraignment in U.S. District Court. Those counts carried maximum penalties, upon conviction, of up to 5 years in prison; the newly added counts carry maximum penalties ranging from five to 20 years and fines of $250,000 to $1 million.

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