Six people have been taken into federal custody for their roles in an identity theft scheme that defrauded banks out of more than $3 million after an investigation by the FBI, United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service; Criminal Investigative Division.
On May 4, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned a 29-count indictment charging them in connection with involvement in the scheme to defraud financial institutions by using stolen identities of people with good credit scores to establish lines of credit, and then using the money for personal expenses. Each of the six is charged with bank fraud. One is also charged with making false statements to banks, and two are charged with aiding and abetting the false statements.
They carried out the fraud by obtaining stolen personal identifying information, including dates of birth, Social Security numbers, credit profiles, FICO scores, and driver’s license numbers, to
complete fraudulent applications for business lines of credit at Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank. The stolen identities were also used to provide bogus corporate officers of shell corporations that did not actually exist. They then concocted profits for the bogus businesses and transmitted false tax documents to make it appear as though the businesses were fully operational. The defendants rented virtual office space and installed rental equipment on premise. They also went as far as to recruit folks to pose as employees in order to convince bank employees that the corporations were legitimate during on-site inspections.
Once the applications were approved by the banks, funds were deposited into corporate bank accounts linked to the credit lines, usually in the amount of $100,000 each. Within a few days, the defendants liquidated the credit lines by issuing checks payable to the themselves. The money was shared among the defendants, draining more than 70 credit lines through this scheme.
If convicted on all counts, the defendants face maximum statutory sentences ranging from 750 years to 870 years.