5 N.Y. residents accused of bilking Mahoning Valley businessman of $124K-plus


CLEVELAND

A Staten Island, N.Y., man accused of scamming a 69-year-old Mahoning Valley business owner out of more than $124,000, and even driving away in the man’s Ford Mustang after persuading him to turn over the title, is now federally indicted along with other alleged conspirators.

New York residents Haki Toplica, 24; Luisa R. Goris, 22; Kathryn L. De La Torre, 24; Haider Islam, 21; and Robert Russo, 27, were indicted Wednesday in the U.S. Northern District of Ohio court on nine counts including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property, according to federal court records.

Toplica remains in the Mahoning County jail. The case is set for arraignment April 3 at the federal courthouse in Cleveland.

The indictment states Toplica told the business owner he was a broker who could help him secure loans he needed to pay off creditors – but Toplica first needed cash up front for loan fees. From June to September, Toplica convinced the man to pony up at least $124,000 across several in-person cash deliveries and wire transfers. Those wired payments ended up in bank accounts belonging to Goris and De La Torre, the indictment states.

Read more about the scam in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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