CRYSTAL LAKE – A federal grand jury in Rockford indicted a California man Tuesday on charges of defrauding a Crystal Lake-based, international nonprofit, after the man allegedly claimed he was a highly decorated Navy SEAL who could help save employees kidnapped in Somalia.
William J. Burley, 34, of Yucaipa, California, was charged with three counts of wire fraud for a scheme to defraud International Aid Services America, located in Crystal Lake, and International Aid Services, headquartered in Sweden, of $30,000 between July and October 2012, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois said in a news release.
Prosecutors said the scheme started after four International Aid Services employees were assaulted and three of them later kidnapped in Somalia. Burley approached the nonprofit in July 2012 and offered to assist with negotiations between the Somalian captors and rescue the captured employees, the federal indictment alleges.
Burley also falsely claimed to have been a highly decorated Navy SEAL, a police officer, and a consultant for the Navy, U.S. Defense Department and State Department, the indictment alleges.
Because of Burley’s “false and fraudulent” representation, prosecutors said, International Aid Services sent him three wire transfers, totaling $30,000, from the Crystal Lake Bank and Trust and a bank in Redlands, California, in late August 2012.
Each count of wire fraud has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. An arraignment date for Burley has not yet been set, prosecutors said.