Winter Springs Man Pleads Guilty to Two Fraud Schemes
Orlando, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Winston James (30, Winter Springs) pleaded guilty last week for his role in two fraud schemes in two separate cases. In one case, James pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In a separate case, James pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. For the conspiracy violations, James faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine. For the aggravated identity theft violation, he faces a minimum of two years in federal prison that will run consecutive to his sentence for the conspiracy violations. James has also agreed to pay restitution to the victims of his crimes. His sentencing hearing is set for January 26, 2012 before Chief United States District Judge Anne C. Conway.
According to court documents, the first fraud scheme James participated in took place from January 2009 to January 2010. James and another individual, Joash Airall, established accounts at on-line banks using identities that were either stolen or obtained without lawful authority. James and Airall attempted to fund those accounts with over $1.7 million in unauthorized wire transfers that were sent from other banks. James, Airall, and other co-conspirators then attempted to withdraw those funds before the scheme could be detected, either by having checks issued and sent to Airall or co-conspirator Steve Prophete, or by transferring the funds to other accounts from where the funds could be withdrawn.
Airall (30, Maitland) pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for the conspiracy violation and a minimum of two years in federal for his aggravated identity theft violation, which will run consecutive to his sentence for the conspiracy. Airall has also agreed to pay restitution to the victims of his crimes. His sentencing hearing is set for January 26, 2012 before Chief U.S. District Judge Anne C. Conway.
Prophete (26, Altamonte Springs) was indicted on July 13, 2011 for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, bank fraud, and making a false statement. He is set for trial in November 2011. An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
According to court documents, the second scheme James participated in took place between August 2010 and January 2011. James and others engaged in a conspiracy to defraud banks and auto dealerships through the negotiation of worthless and forged checks in an attempt to obtain vehicles from numerous auto dealerships throughout Florida. The first step was for James or another conspirator to contact a car dealer, negotiate the purchase of a vehicle, and promise to pay for the vehicle in the form of a wire transfer. The dealer then provided bank account information for the wire transfer. Rather than send a wire transfer, James or another conspirator would deposit a worthless or forged check into the car dealer’s account. A conspirator would then attempt to take delivery of the vehicle before the bank or dealer learned that the check that had been deposited was fraudulent. If they were successful in getting a vehicle, James and his conspirators would then immediately sell the vehicle to another dealer.
To date, 40 fraudulent transactions, totaling over $2.5 million, have been identified that were committed, or attempted, as part of this conspiracy. James and his conspirators were successful in obtaining 13 vehicles. Of those, five were re-sold before the scheme was detected, while the other eight were recovered before they could be re-sold.
Four others have been prosecuted for their participation in this conspiracy, each has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. On September 27, 2011, Samuel Perrot (24, Orlando) was sentenced to one year of probation and four months of home detention, and was ordered to pay $69,500 in restitution. On October 6, 2011, Jambauking Paul (26 of Kissimmee) was sentenced to three years of probation and six months of home detention. Evens Paul (30, Orlando) is scheduled for sentencing on November 21, 2011. Erick Paul (28, Kissimmee) is scheduled for sentencing on November 22, 2011.
These cases were investigated by the United States Secret Service. They are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg.