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Chicago area man charged with stealing $9.5 million from shipments. How he duped his victims.

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CHICAGO (CBS) -- An Elk Grove Village man has been charged with stealing more than $9.5 million in goods – largely liquor and commercial-grade copper – from interstate shipments by posing as an agent of real and fictitious brokers and trucking companies.

Aivaras Zigmantas, 39, is charged in federal court in Chicago with six counts of wire fraud, five counts of bank fraud, and two counts of theft of interstate shipments.

He was arrested and pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance on Wednesday.

According to the indictment against him, Zigmantas used nearly a dozen aliases - "Rolandas Butikis," "Rolandas Butkus," "Vismantas Danyla," "Tom Kempinski," "Arturas Liaskevicius," "Darius Meskauskas," "Arminas Rimkus," "Egidijus Stankus," "Kathy Stone," "Darius Venskus," and "Aivarasz Zigmaneas" – as part of his scheme, which lasted from March 2020 through September 2023.

Federal prosecutors said Zigmantas would pose as an agent or employee of real and fictitious shipping companies and brokers, submit bids to transport loads of goods and convince them to hire him to ship the goods across state lines.

He would then divert the shipments to various warehouses, where he and unnamed accomplices he'd recruited would steal the goods to use for their own personal benefit.

Zigmantis and his accomplices also set up bank accounts in various names to make payments to legitimate carriers and others to help cover up their scheme, according to the indictment. They also created email addresses and websites and opened UPS Store mailboxes in the names of fake businesses for use in their scheme; and even used fake IDs, including driver's licenses and foreign passports.  

Federal prosecutors said the group planned to steal approximately $13.6 million in goods and made off with more than $9.5 million from their victims.

Zigmanits was due back in court on Monday for a detention hearing.

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