SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Two people were sentenced in federal court Monday for an alleged wire fraud scheme involving prepaid Walmart gift cards.

Chaohui Chen, 46, was sentenced to pay $217,200 in restitution, 21 months in prison, and 36 months supervised release. Wenyi Zheng, 46, was sentenced to pay $217,200 in restitution, 36 months in prison, and 36 months supervised release.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in June 2019, Chen and Zheng used Walmart prepaid gift cards to defraud victims, including the elderly, and other vulnerable citizens, out of thousands.

The typical execution of the scheme was that people, who remain unidentified, would make telephone calls and convince the victims to purchase prepaid gift cards. The callers would also sometimes claim they were part of the Social Security Administration.

After the victims purchased the cards, they would give the information to the callers in exchange for a cashier’s check of the same amount. A cashier’s check is a check written by a bank or credit union, that is reportedly guaranteed, as it comes from the bank’s funds.

According to the report, Chen and Zheng would redeem the gift cards by purchasing household items, and additional prepaid gift cards. They would use the old, and new gift cards for their personal gain, and would not return any money to the victims. The victims never received their cashier’s checks.

Chen and Zheng allegedly used or caused others to use interstate wire communications facilities to carry out the crime. This means that they communicated across state lines in order to defraud victims of their money.

Zheng and Chen pleaded guilty to their participation in the wire fraud scheme. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations.

“The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate people who prey on vulnerable members of our community,” said United States Attorney Trina A. Higgins. “It is our job to pursue justice for victims, some of whom are elderly and trusted those who committed this crime.”