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Unclaimed Property Scheme Unravels

SAN DIEGO (CN) - Eight people are accused of defrauding hundreds of property owners of $1.5 million or more, in a scheme involving California's Unclaimed Property website.

The federal indictment was unsealed this week, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

Three defendants were arrested this week; five remain at large.

The ring is accused of posing as owners of the unclaimed property, such as insurance payouts and unclaimed money in escrow and bank accounts. They submitted false claims with phony identification, including bogus notary stamps and forged signatures, prosecutors said in a statement.

Arrested this week were Ignacio Garcia Nunez, 52, and Cesar Alfonso Benitez, 45, both of Calexico, and Alma Gurrola, 45, of Agoura Hills.

At large are defendants Stan Gurrola, 44; Moises Y. Covarrubias, 43; Manuel Reyes Ornela, 63; Moises Covarrubias Angulo, 51, all of Calexico; and Claudia Griselda Stolp, 49, of Newbury Park.

They are charged with conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering, which are punishable by 5 years, 20, years and 20 years in prison, respectively.

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