1. Business

Clearwater woman accused in federal charges of stealing $6 million

A Clearwater woman and a Port Orange man were arrested Monday after the U.S. Attorney's Office in Orlando accused the pair of stealing more than $6 million over a six-year period.

Victoria Snow, 54, and Brian Newton, 56, were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Each faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

According to an FBI investigation, the pair started running a scheme involving "factoring" from 2003 to 2009. That's when a business sells its accounts receivable — its invoices for payment — to a third party at a discount price. Businesses sell their outstanding invoices when they need cash right away and usually arrange for the customer to directly pay the third party who bought the invoice.

Snow and Newton worked on behalf of Tampa's Dataforce International Inc., which was "factoring," or selling, its invoices to Amerifactors Financial Group. The pair were accused of "submitting a series of invoices for factoring, to Amerifactors, that were inflated and that did not reflect the work that had been performed by Dataforce," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Amerifactors is located in Celebration.

Federal prosecutors said that the pair also took part in "double factoring," or selling the same Dataforce invoices to both Amerifactors and another company, Prestige Funding, using "altered work orders." Snow and Newton took more than $6 million from Amerifactors, Prestige Funding and Prestige's investors, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.