Fourteen indicted on identity theft charges
Posted on June 12, 2012 12:00 AM EST
Fourteen local individuals were indicted in federal court for their involvement in a bank fraud scheme. Both men and women were indicted, but only 13 of the 14 have been arrested to date. The group is charged with being involved in an organized scheme to defraud several Bank of America customers. The defendants will appear before a magistrate with their perspective defense lawyers
to determine whether each is entitled to a bond or whether the government is going to seek pre-trial detention. If the government seeks pre-trial detention, the hearing will be set within 48 hours. The government will have the burden of proving the defendant is linked to the crime and that the defendant is a danger to the community or a risk of flight. If the government can meet their burden, the magistrate can hold a defendant without a bond until the trial and/or sentencing occurs.
The alleged scheme was responsible for taking in excess of $100,000 from unsuspecting bank customers between November 2009 and June 2010. According to the United States Attorney's Office, one of the defendants was the ringleader of the operation. He is accused of stealing identities of bank customers, allowing other perpetrators to gain access to the accounts. The ringleader, Ibrahin Elias, was able to acquire the personal information of Bank of America customers, such as, names, birth-dates and social security numbers. Elias purportedly took the personal information and impersonated bank customers. Once the customer's accounts were compromised, he ordered checks which were used to withdraw money out of the accounts. Once Elias had control of the accounts, he would transfer funds to accounts belonging to the other co-defendants. He is charged with several counts of bank fraud
, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The other defendants charged in the indictment are charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud
. A couple of the defendants are accused of receiving stolen funds and recruiting others to participate in the fraud. Others are simply accused of receiving stolen funds and returning the proceeds to others charged in the indictment. They received commissions for transferring the stolen money. According to court documents, each of the amounts stolen from individuals was less than $10,000 which means that were at least 10 victims involved in the crime.
Each of the defendants charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud are facing up to 30 years in prison. Elias is also facing two-year minimum mandatory sentences for aggravated identity theft
for each victim who had his or her identity stolen. The defendant's sentencing guidelines will determine what each individual is facing in terms of prison time. Those who cooperate with the federal investigators and prosecutors will receive the lightest sentences. Those of the defendants that choose not to cooperate with the feds will face sentences determined mostly by the amount of loss. Defendants involved in creating and managing the scheme will face more time as they will have their guidelines increased by several levels.
Arrests Made in Thefts from Online Bank Accounts, Miami Herald.com, June 10, 2012.