By Shereen Siewert
A 43-year-old Jacksonville, Fla. man is accused of defrauding a Wausau finance company of about $208,000 in an identity fraud scheme uncovered in September.
Brad Elliott Johnson faces felony charges filed March 11 in Marathon County Circuit Court of fraud on a financial institution, with a value greater than $100,000. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in the Wisconsin Prison System and a fine of up to $50,000.
An investigation began in September when a compliance officer with Aqua Finance reported discovering 11 instances of suspected fraud by a company called Kentucky KVAC and and More, based out of Kentucky. The compliance officer told police that Johnson was using the identity of a “Brad Smith” when establishing a consumer credit account for the allegedly fraudulent company.
According to the criminal complaint, Johnson, using Brad Smith’s identity, was using the company to extend consumer loans to 11 identities which are believed to be stolen. Once credit was obtained by the company, no goods or services were exchanged, leading officials to conclude that Johnson retained the loaned funds.
Aqua Finance produced 89 pages with account details from the 11 loans extended to Kentucky HVAC and More after discovering the addresses and phone numbers for the 11 consumers were either vacant, wrong or disconnected. Aqua Finance subsequently cleared the loans to the consumers, resulting in a loss of about $208,000, court documents state.
Local investigators contacted a Kentucky detective, who worked to locate Johnson.
The Kentucky Department of Corrections lists prior convictions in 2018 of identity theft and operating a sham or front company for Brad Elliott Johnson. It is unclear if Johnson is in custody at this time. The criminal complaint in Wisconsin lists a Jacksonville, Fla. address.
A date for an initial court appearance has not been set.