A federal grand jury has found a 35-year-old Pennsylvania man guilty of bank fraud and identity theft. The man was accused of being at the center of an identity theft conspiracy that may have stolen as much as $1 million.
In 2009, the man crashed a rented car into a tree, which drew the attention of authorities. Police searched the vehicle and found a number of what they believed to be fake credit cards and drivers' licenses inside.
Prosecutors alleged that 24 people took part in the conspiracy, 15 of which have already pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Authorities believe that three of the people who pleaded guilty were former girlfriends of the defendant who worked for Pennsylvania companies. Allegedly, the defendant used these women to gain inside information. Authorities alleged that the stolen information included Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and bank account data.
One co-defendant was a PNC bank manager, a second was a teller at Wachovia Bank and the third worked at Colonial Penn Insurance. One of the women was accused of providing confidential information on 37 customers.
According to the defendant's attorney, the authorities offered lenient plea deals to co-defendants and set aside mandatory minimum sentences in order to get them to testify against the alleged ringleader.
The defendant allegedly used the stolen information to create fraudulent checks. Others involved in the conspiracy were accused of working as runners, who the defendant allegedly recruited to pass fraudulent checks and withdraw money from compromised bank accounts.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled in September. At that time, the defendant will be sentenced in accordance with the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and he faces the possibility of prison time, a fine, restitution or a combination of all three.
Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Gigolo fraudster convicted of stealing up to $1M," Nathan Gorenstein, 6/28/2011
Westport News, "Feds: ID theft ringleader romanced bank workers," Maryclaire Dale, 6/24/2011