MARION COUNTY, Iowa - Three central Iowa women are charged in an international fraud case.
Marilyn Sterk of Otley, Jennifer Sterk of Pella, and Teresa Sterk Vanballe of Knoxville were all arrested last Friday and charged with wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
A federal indictment says the three women along with two men conspired to sell junk computer programs and services to people across the U.S. by using ads to lure people to a fake tech company.
The indictment says the group ended up stealing more than four-million dollars dating back to 2014.
The Sterks are free on bond and they'll appear in court in Tennessee next week.
The grand jury federal indictment includes a citizen of India and an American citizen, who both lives in Maryland.
The indictment says the five people named worked with co-conspirators, some of whom are not known, in an effort to steal as much money as possible by selling worthless computer programs to unsuspecting victims in the United States.
They're accused of using pop-up ads that falsely informed people that their computers had a serious problem. Those people were advised to call a toll-free number into a call center, where a representative would attempt to sell them phony technical support, bogus extended service contracts and unnecessary software at a cost of anywhere between $300 and $1,500.