Two Anchorage women are facing felony fraud, theft and other charges accusing them of stealing more than $150,000 as part of a monthslong money laundering scheme involving multiple victims, authorities say.
Valerie Calip and Jennifer Haydu were indicted by an Anchorage grand jury in January on two dozen felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft, fraud and money laundering. Both women were arrested last week on those charges, according to an indictment unsealed Friday.
An elderly Alaskan with dementia was among victims of Calip and Haydu, the indictment says.
The two each entered not guilty pleas last week on 23 of the 24 counts, and denied one count of criminal forfeiture, according to online federal court records. Denying criminal forfeiture is a way to dispute a claim by prosecutors that a defendant is not entitled to retain certain property.
While federal prosecutors reached for this story did not confirm the total number of victims, the two women are accused of stealing more than 200 identity documents, including driver’s licenses, checkbooks and mail from multiple people.
Prosecutors allege the women used the stolen documents to claim power of attorney, to open credit cards and bank accounts, and to deposit and cash fraudulent checks between October 2021 and December of last year, according to the indictment filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Tansey for the District of Alaska.
Calip and Haydu then used cash transfer apps to cover up the scheme, according to the indictment.
The women stole over $100,000 from an elderly person with dementia, the document said.
Late last year, Haydu also withdrew $9,600 from a Wells Fargo account owned by Habitat for Humanity, the indictment states.
Officials with the Anchorage branch of Habitat for Humanity, a national nonprofit that helps provide families with affordable housing, this week said they had never before experienced a theft like this.
“By some means that we’re not entirely clear on, they managed to steal the identification of someone who’s a signer on our accounts, create their own identity and trick the bank,” Habitat for Humanity Anchorage executive director Peter Taylor said Wednesday.
The person whose identity was apparently stolen did not work for Habitat for Humanity, Taylor said. The financial loss did not have a major impact on the organization’s operations, but did have a harmful effect on the person involved.
He called it “beyond the pale to go and steal money from an organization that is putting families into housing.”
Calip and Haydu’s attorneys declined to comment on the case Wednesday. The women are currently in custody and have a hearing scheduled for Thursday to determine release under certain conditions, said John Murtagh, Haydu’s attorney.
Authorities said in the statement that it’s possible the women may have additional victims.
“Anyone who believes they may be a victim of this scheme and entitled to restitution may contact the United States Attorney’s Office at 907-271-3661,” they said.
They also included number for a National Elder Fraud Hotline established by the Justice Department for seniors who may be victims of financial fraud. That number is 833-372-8311.
The hotline is staffed by case managers who can assist with reporting suspected fraud and providing resources and referrals.