FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
For Information Contact:
Virginia Man Convicted in Counterfeit Check Scheme
Involving $2.5 Million in Bad Checks
- Banks Kept Him From Collecting Most of the Money -
WASHINGTON – Howard R. Shmuckler, 68, of Virginia Beach, Va., has been convicted of federal charges stemming from a counterfeit check scheme in which he deposited 16 counterfeit checks worth over $2.5 million, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Shmuckler was convicted on December 12, 2011, following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A jury found him guilty of five counts of bank fraud and five counts of possessing or uttering a counterfeit security. The Honorable Judge Richard W. Roberts scheduled sentencing for February 28, 2012. The defendant faces up to 30 years in prison.
According to evidence introduced at trial, Shmuckler attempted to deposit 16 counterfeit checks worth over $2.5 million into various accounts that he and his wife controlled at several banks. Beginning in April 2005, Shmuckler deposited large counterfeit checks drawn on the accounts of various businesses across the United States and Canada. The fraudulent checks included an $895,000 check drawn on an Arkansas-based grain miller and distributor. Although each check was returned to him as fraudulent or invalid, Shmuckler continued to deposit new counterfeit checks, even opening new bank accounts at new banks.
In those instances when funds were made available from the checks, Shmuckler removed them in various ways: wiring funds overseas, withdrawing cash by ATM or checks, or transferring money to other banks. In the fall of 2005, bank fraud investigators noted the suspicious activity. The banks recovered close to $40,000 in fraudulently-obtained and subsequently-transferred proceeds. Shmuckler himself obtained approximately $8,800 through the scheme.
Between the fall of 2005 and early 2006, Shmuckler’s banks accounts were closed.
The full scope of Shmuckler’s scheme was discovered during FBI investigations of Shmuckler’s wife, Elayne Shmuckler, related to schemes to defraud Aetna Insurance for disability payments and to defraud the Commonwealth of Virginia for unemployment compensation. Mrs. Shmuckler has since been convicted of wire fraud in two separate cases related to those schemes.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen and Assistant Director McJunkin commended the work of the FBI Special Agents from the Washington Field Office who investigated the case and were critical to trial preparation. They also acknowledged the work of Officer Wahid Alam of the Fairfax County, Virginia Police Department, who interviewed the defendant. In addition, they commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Forensic Accountant Crystal Boodoo; Paralegal Specialists Sarah Reis, Tasha Harris, Diane Hayes, and Shanna Hays; Legal Assistant Krishawn Graham; and Contractor Paralegal Specialists Nicole Wattelet and Lenisse Edloe. Finally, they expressed appreciation to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Haray, who investigated the case, and Jonathan Hooks, who tried the case.