Indiana Daily Student

Man arrested on federal wire fraud charges

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He found the note on his windshield.

An Indianapolis man was told by an anonymous letter writer he had 24 hours to drop off $15,000 cash to a specified location last December. If he did not comply, the writer told him proof the man had committed insurance fraud and cheated on his spouse would go public. 

To start the process, he needed to tweet a specified message and text a number in the note one word: yes. 

Instead of meeting the letter writer’s demands, the man contacted his brother-in-law, a prosecutor in Howard County, Indiana, who contacted the FBI, according to court documents.

The FBI told the man to send the tweet. Then, the FBI texted the letter writer, pretending to be the man. 

The letter writer replied, demanding the money be dropped behind the Vitamin Shoppe store on East 82nd Street in Indianapolis inside a specified backpack. 

The author of the letter also told the man he would find his Jeep Wrangler, which was stolen two days earlier, if the instructions were followed. 

The FBI purchased the type of bag specified by the letter writer and filled it with a box containing a magazine and a single dollar bill. Then, an undercover agent texted the letter writer saying he was about to drop the money, and the letter writer replied with the Wrangler’s location.

The agent took the bag to the drop area while other agents waited nearby in unmarked cars. A man then pulled up in a Chevrolet Cruze, grabbed the bag and was quickly surrounded by FBI agents. 

The Cruze driver, Benjamin Bulriss, was arrested in December and charged with wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a potential fine of $250,000. 

Bulriss previously worked for the man who received the note, and Bulriss has both a bachelor's degree and an MBA from IU, according to court documents.

Bulriss told the FBI he needed the money for credit card debts. He admitted to law enforcement officers he had been texting the business owner, and to conceal his phone number, he used an app. 

Bulriss also told law enforcement he had found what he believed was proof of insurance fraud at the man’s business. However, in court documents, law enforcement said it does not believe the man actually committed insurance fraud.  

Bulriss told police he never had any proof the man had cheated on his spouse. 

He also admitted to stealing the Wrangler, which was found at the location Bulriss had previously identified in the texts. 

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