MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A federal grand jury has indicted four people in a St. Paul-based credit card scheme that bilked nearly $3.2 million from victims nationwide, according to documents unsealed Friday.
The indictment stems from newspaper advertisements that allegedly guaranteed Visa and MasterCard credit cards with "no credit check" and "no waiting."
Charges of conspiring to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to launder money were filed in a Minneapolis federal court against Victor Stanley Wilcox, 49, of St. Paul; Belinda Sweeney Granlund, 43, of Apple Valley; Troy Timothy Kisling, 42; and Lee Sumner Churchill, 55, of Minneapolis.
According to the indictment:
Approved Credit Alliance, a St. Paul company owned by Wilcox, purported to market credit cards in classified advertisements throughout the United States. When customers contacted the company, they were asked to give bank account numbers to "pre-qualify" for a credit card. ACA then used the numbers to charge a fee from $49 to $129, and later a $19 monthly charge.
From May 1998 to March 1999, ACA attempted to withdraw more than $1.5 million from about 10,000 victims nationwide. The company succeeded in taking about $447,000.
ACA never had the authority to issue credit card, according to the indictment. Instead, the company sent customers an information packet that included a list of banks that issue credit cards.
Granlund and Kisling were managers for the company.
After Minnesota authorities forcibly closed ACA in March 1999, Churchill allegedly joined the conspiracy by helping the other three defendants establish similar businesses in Wisconsin, Texas, South Dakota and Iowa.
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