The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced last week the indictment of 11 people on a variety of counts related to the alleged bilking of banks and their customers for a total of almost three quarters of a million dollars.
How was the scheme accomplished?
According to the D.A., the defendants operated across the country, traveling from New York to nine other states. Prosecutors claim that the group accomplished the thefts in the following way:
- They flew from New York to another state.
- In the other state, they visited a branch of JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Capital One, and/or Key Bank.
- Once at the branch, they impersonated an account holder, using forged identification documents.
- Fraudulent transactions were initiated, and money was withdrawn from the bank.
These were relatively small transactions, but there were a large number of them. One defendant is accused of impersonating more than 25 account holders, and stealing a total of over $200,000.
What are the charges?
The defendants are accused of three primary criminal offenses:
- Grand Larceny. The defendants are charged with grand larceny in the second, third and fourth degree. The grand larceny crimes are classified generally according to the value of the property or the amount of money at issue. The threshold (fourth degree) is a value in excess of $1,000.
- Identity Theft. They face charges of identity theft in the first, second and third degree. These involve the assumption of another person’s identity, along with other elements which increase the severity and potential penalty for the offense.
- Scheme to Defraud. This is defined as continuing and systematic conduct, involving more than one potential victim, using fraud or false pretenses.
What makes this case a bit unusual is the large number of relatively minor transactions occurring in multiple states. While each transaction, by itself, involved just a small amount of money, the total came to a whopping $700,000.
Because of the large number of felony counts, most of the defendants could be facing years in prison if convicted.
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