News and Press Releases

Delaware Woman Sentenced to 81 Months
on Fraud and Identity Theft Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2013

WILMINGTON, Del. - Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced that Carolyn Wall, age 37, of Newark, Delaware, was sentenced yesterday by the Honorable Sue L. Robinson, United States District Judge for the District of Delaware, to 81 months imprisonment and full restitution, after being convicted by a jury of 30 counts of fraud and identity theft.  The defendant was convicted of violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 (Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud), 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (Wire Fraud);  18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7) (Identity Theft), 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(3) and (c)(1)(a) (Access Device Fraud),  42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7)(B) (Fraudulent Use of a Social Security Number), and 18 U.S.C. §1028A (Aggravated Identity Theft).

From in or around July 2010 through in or around May 2011, the defendant engaged in a check fraud and identity theft scheme.  The defendant used a sophisticated computer software program, specialty check paper, and a particular type of “MICR compliant” check-writing ink to make hundreds of counterfeit checks.  The defendant also utilized real bank names and routing numbers, but the account numbers on the checks were fabricated.  The defendant and other members of the scheme then presented these fraudulent checks at area retail stores, including Acme, Wal-Mart, Happy Harry’s, Lowe’s, Boscov’s, Target, Safeway, Best Buy and Kohl’s.  Checks created by the defendant were presented to retail stores more than 700 times, and more than 250 of the checks were honored, costing the stores more than $100,000 in less than a year. 

In order to bypass the stores’ security systems, the defendant and the other members of the scheme amassed more than 200 names and social security numbers of individuals in Delaware and elsewhere.  More than 65 social security numbers were used in attempts to cash the fraudulent checks.  The defendant also collected a significant amount of driver’s licenses and other identification documents for the members of the scheme to use in cashing the fraudulent checks. 

The defendant also used the Social Security number of another person to obtain the lease on her residence, as well as to obtain cable and power service.

The defendant admitted during the trial that she had been involved in creating fraudulent checks for nearly ten years.  The defendant was arrested for her role in check fraud activities in 2008, in Stafford County, Virginia.  The defendant was convicted of felony forgery and false statement charges in Virginia, and she served nearly two years in prison.  The defendant was released and placed on probation in early June 2010.  She began making fraudulent checks within a few weeks, in July 2010.

The defendant was convicted of all thirty counts of the Indictment, following a six-day jury trial in April, 2013.  The sentence handed down by Judge Robinson yesterday represents a mandatory consecutive 24-month term of imprisonment on the Aggravated Identity Theft charges (18 U.S.C. §1028A), and a 57- month term of imprisonment on the remaining counts.

U.S. Attorney Oberly said of the sentence, “This case should send a clear signal that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware takes this type of persistent, organized, and far-reaching identity theft scheme very seriously.  I applaud the commitment of the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, to vigorously investigate identity theft and financial fraud cases that harm innocent citizens. We will seek incarceration where necessary to deter offenders such as Ms. Wall and to protect the community from future harm.”

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, and it was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lauren Paxton.
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