Chandler market owner, 2 sons indicted in money order scheme

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PHOENIX -- A Gilbert man and his two sons are accused of operating an elaborate money order scheme from a Chandler market.

Federal authorities arrested Gjergj Kol Mihilli, 60, Nikolas George Mihilli, 35, and Nino Joseph Mihilli, 31, on Wednesday. They are charged with conspiracy, bank fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

A 46-count indictment alleges the trio operated a money order fraud scheme from the Mama Mia Panaderia & Market, which is owned by Gjergj Mihilli. In addition to food sales, the store offered a variety of financial transaction services to customers, including money order sales, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The trio allegedly issued money orders to non-existent customers, deposited them in business accounts and then used the money to pay for the money orders while skimming cash off the top.

The indictment alleges that the defendants issued and deposited more than 10,000 fake money orders, totaling approximately $10 million, since May 2010.

The charges are the result of a joint investigation by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Chandler Police Department.