Two Minnesota Men Plead Guilty For Their Roles In Large, Multi-state Identity Theft Ring
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a Minnesota man pleaded guilty for his role in a large, multi-state identity theft ring. Jerome Davis, Jr., age 44, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Davis, who was indicted along with four others on November 14, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson.
In his plea agreement, Davis admitted that from 2010 through 2011, he was part of a conspiracy to commit bank fraud. For his part, Davis recruited individuals to conduct fraudulent transactions at financial institutions and retail establishments. He provided the recruited individuals with fraudulent identification documents and counterfeit checks that Davis received from another member of the conspiracy. Davis also drove individuals to retail stores where they conducted the fraudulent transactions.
According to the indictment to which Davis pled guilty, members of the conspiracy obtained victims’ personal information from various sources, including mail theft, vehicle break-ins, burglaries and from individuals who stole the information from their places of employment. The victim information was then used to create false identification documents, such as driver’s licenses and identification cards, along with counterfeit checks. The counterfeit checks were used to purchase expensive items and gift cards at retail stores. The items were later returned for cash, which was divided among those involved in the criminal activity.
The victim information was also used to open bank accounts and access the existing bank accounts of others. As part of this scheme, co-conspirators deposited counterfeit checks into the accounts of unknowing individuals, only to withdraw funds from those same accounts a short time later. To avoid detection, co-conspirators only accessed each bank account a few times before moving on to their next victim.
For his part, Davis has agreed that he is responsible for approximately $170,389 in fraudulent transactions.
Yesterday, co-defendant Jemall Ronta Williams, age 38, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In his plea agreement, Williams admitted that he joined the conspiracy in 2009, and obtained victim information from a co-conspirator who worked at Wells Fargo. Williams also admitted to providing the stolen information to others who used it to create false and fictitious identification documents to pass counterfeit checks. In addition, Williams admitted recruiting individuals to pass counterfeit checks. Williams admitted that he is responsible for approximately $40,000 in fraudulent transactions.
For their crimes, Davis and Williams each face a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and a mandatory minimum consecutive penalty of two years in prison for identity theft. Judge Magnuson will determine their sentences at future hearings, not yet scheduled.
Trial is scheduled for April 1, 2013, for the three others who were indicted with Davis and Williams. In September of 2012 following a jury trial, four men were convicted for their roles in this identity theft ring.
Twenty-four other co-conspirators have already entered guilty pleas and are also awaiting sentencing.
These cases resulted from an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations. They are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen B. Schommer.
The Financial Crimes Task Force was established pursuant to state law and is comprised of local, state, and federal law enforcement investigators dedicated to combating the growing problem of cross-jurisdictional financial crimes. The task force, overseen by an advisory board also created under state law, serves the entire District of Minnesota, presenting its cases to county or federal prosecutors, as appropriate.
The task force and the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office want to remind people to protect themselves from identity theft. For more information, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov/protect-identity.html.
For more information on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/IdentityTheft.aspx . The IRS-Criminal Investigations also urges citizens to review the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, which can be found at http://www.irs.gov.
For tips on how to prevent mail theft, visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/MailTheft.aspx.