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HAMMOND — A Dallas, Texas woman has entered a guilty plea for her role in the complex scheme where she and others tricked unsuspecting victims, including one in Northwest Indiana, into wiring money to a bank account set up under a fraudulent company name.

Rita Alielnour's case in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana centers around an individual from Crown Point — identified only as "TW" in court filings — who was in the process of buying a new home in Valparaiso. 

Alielnour was indicted in January on five counts of wire fraud, but under a pending plea deal, she would only serve time for one count. 

According to the indictment, on the morning of April 7, 2017, "TW" received closing instructions for her new home in Valparaiso, via email, that identified the title company handling the closing.

That same day, Alielnour and others unknown to the grand jury registered a website under a nearly identical name of the title company and subsequently emailed "TW" posing as the title company. They also registered a phone number with a 219 area code through a Canadian company, which they gave to "TW" as a contact number for the company. 

On April 18, Alielnour sent "TW" an email purporting to be from the title company that instructed her to wire $282,012.30 in closing costs to a bank account set up by Alielnour and others. "TW" complied, and the money was transferred into the account. However, the bank placed a hold on the account because the name on the wire — the title company — did not match the name on the account — Reality Global. 

"After completing the wire transfer, TW received multiple emails from someone pretending to be the title company employee requesting TW change the beneficiary name on the wire to Reality Global and the address to an address in Dallas, Texas," the plea agreement states. 

The victim's bank became suspicious because of the requests, and the change was not made and a fraud hold was placed on the account's funds. 

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Others victimized

Also on April 18, Alielnour and others sent an email to a Houston lawyer — identified only as "WW" in court filings — purporting to be a colleague. The email requested "WW" wire $24,860 to the same Global Reality bank account. 

The next day, a third victim — listed as "GB," a Houston businessman — had his bank account compromised by an unknown person. 

"That person logged into GB's account using his credentials, but without his knowledge or authority, and initiated a wire transfer of $28,395.59 into (Alielnour's) Global Reality bank account," the indictment states.

The one count of wire fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. 

A sentencing date has not been scheduled, according to court records. 

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Northlake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.