If At First You Don't Succeed, Commit Fraud and Fail Again : Defrauding From Behind Bars
by Steve Rhode
Three defendants have been sentenced to federal prison on charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft; one man committing fraud from prison.
According to United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In late January 2011, Samantha Johnson stole the wallet of a 93-year-old woman while she was shopping at a retail establishment in Conyers, Georgia. There Johnson found the victim's debit card for checking accounts at Georgia United Credit Union along with the personal identification number (PIN) for her debit card and account numbers and personal information that she would need to obtain information over the telephone about her accounts from the credit union.
Johnson shared the victim's debit card number, PIN, account numbers and personal information with Danyez Hines and Carlos Garcia. At the time Garcia was incarcerated at Valdosta State Prison, having been convicted of identity theft and fraud in which he targeted elderly victims.
Sounds like a real "go-to" person, eh? Nothing like looking for help in committing a crime than with a person who had previously failed at getting away with this crime before. Criminals are so smart ::rolls eyes::.
Unfortunately, incarceration did not stand in the way of Garcia participating in additional crimes. Johnson and Hines were able to communicate with Garcia through a cell phone that had been smuggled to him in the prison.
Which makes me wonder, how in the world would one keep a cell phone charged in jail?!
Using the victim's account numbers, debit card, PIN, and personal information, the defendants attempted through various means to obtain the more than $120,000 in funds that were in the victim's accounts at the Georgia United Credit Union. Garcia, using the cell phone smuggled to him in the prison, used the debit card number and PIN to wire transfer money from the victim's account to his prisoner account at Valdosta State Prison.
Hines and Johnson ordered new checks for the account and directed that they be sent to Hines' grandmother's address. Once the checks arrived, Hines forged the victim's signature on checks and cashed them or gave them to others to cash for him. Using the personal information obtained from the victim's wallet, the defendants called the credit union, posed as the victim and transferred funds between accounts.
When the victim and her family discovered the fraud, they reported it to the credit union. The credit union froze the victim's accounts and deactivated the victim's debit card before a substantial loss occurred.
I'm sure the wiring to a personal PRISON account and the mailing of checks to a personal address didn't give the police too much of a chase in this case.
Garcia, the already once failed criminal, fails yet again and was sentenced to 6 years, 9 months in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $3,104.09.
Hines was sentenced to 2 years, 10 months in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release and $1,719.75 in restitution.
Johnson was sentenced to 5 years, 10 months in prison followed by 5 years supervised release and $3,104.09 due in restitution.
"Identity theft has the potential to decimate its victims' bank accounts and credit history. These defendants targeted a 93-year-old woman and attempted to defraud her of her life savings. Thankfully, the victim and her family discovered the crime before the defendants were able to empty her bank accounts," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "They exhibited a remarkable callousness toward the impact that their criminal conduct would have on their elderly victim" - Source.
Folks, DO NOT KEEP YOUR PIN NUMBERS AND PERSONAL INFORMATION IN YOUR WALLET. That's right, I went all CAPS on y'all.