Federal prosecutors on Friday announced criminal charges against 10 people in South Jersey and Philadelphia for their alleged roles in a “quick cash” scheme using accounts on Snapchat and Instagram to lure victims and ultimately steal more than $1.5 million.
The defendants, mainly in their teens and early 20s, allegedly spent the money on jewelry, watches, apparel, and vehicles.
Prosecutors said the scam frequently focused on social media accounts used by Kayla Massa, 22, of Gloucester City, who appears to have built a substantial online following since her early teens.
Massa has an Instagram account — “Kayg0ldi” — with more than 300,000 followers. She has more than 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, where she has posted hair tutorials and updates on her “Golden Family” of inner-circle friends.
Prosecutors said she used Instagram’s “stories” feature, which automatically deletes postings after 24 hours, for her online pitches, often with photos of stacks of cash, money orders, and screenshots of bank account balances. She also allegedly used Snapchat this way.
The victims would then contact Massa through direct message and were given different explanations of how they would get rich quick and what they needed to do, prosecutors said. What Massa and the other defendants ultimately wanted, they said, was access to the victims’ bank accounts.
They didn’t need the victims’ money, and in at least one case advised the person to remove the money ahead of time, to make the person feel more secure about the transaction. Instead, they used the accounts to cash fraudulently obtained checks and money orders, prosecutors said. Once they were done using the bank accounts, they shut off communications with the victims, prosecutors said.
They also targeted automotive business around South Jersey, prosecutors said.
The other nine named defendants are Kayla’s sister, Leire Leian Massa, 19, of Laurel Springs; William Logan, 22, of Gloucester City; Jordan Herrin, 22, of Berlin; Erasmo Feliciano, 19, of Laurel Springs; Kevin McDaniels, 18, of Sicklerville; Jabreel Martin, 20, of Philadelphia; Dezhon McCrae, 20, of Penns Grove, N.J.; Andrew Johnson, 21, of Gloucester City; and Alex Haines, 27, of Woodbury.