A northwest suburban man has been sentenced to 13 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3.6 million in restitution after pleading guilty to wire fraud in a multiyear scheme to bilk credit card issuers. (Dreamstime / TNS)
Anorthwest suburban man has been sentenced to 13 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3.6 million in restitution after pleading guilty to wire fraud in a multiyear scheme to bilk credit card issuers.
Sebastian Deptula, 37, of Medinah, and eight co-defendants were charged with submitting false information to obtain multiple credit cards and rapidly exhausting the spending limits on everything from electronics to cash advances before the cards were frozen or canceled, according to a federal indictment.
Deptula pleaded guilty in February and was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Chicago.
The credit card “bust-out” scheme ran from 2010 to 2014 and involved a number of financial institutions and associates recruited by Deptula, authorities said. In some cases, card balances were paid down from accounts that had insufficient funds, buying extra time to make additional purchases before the cards were canceled.
Cardholders also disputed entries on account statements to reverse charges or get additional credit to extend the use of the cards, according to the plea agreement. When the cards were maxed out, Deptula instructed his associates to declare bankruptcy to avoid responsibility for the debts.
Deptula’s take was typically 20 percent of the credit card limit, payable in goods, cash or cash equivalents, according to the plea agreement.
The FBI began investigating the scheme in 2012, and it came to an end when a search warrant was executed at Deptula’s Medinah home in 2014. He was arrested in 2015 and charged with nine counts of fraud.
Investigators pegged the losses suffered by financial institutions at more than $3.5 million, but Deptula’s court-appointed attorney argued that the loss amount was significantly lower — about $1.1 million — and questioned the severity of the sentence.
“We were disappointed in the sentencing,” said Chicago attorney Scott Frankel, who represented Deptula. “The court disagreed with us on the loss amount, and we’re planning to file notice of appeal.”
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