News

Leader in Identity Theft Scheme Sentenced to Over 5 Years in Prison


Used the Financial and Identifying Information Stolen From Hospital Patients and Their Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced Devin Jarmal Smith, a/k/a Sean Jones, age 20, of Baltimore, today to 61 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme in which Smith and his co-conspirators defrauded financial institutions using stolen identity information and posing as bank customers. Judge Hollander also ordered Smith to pay restitution of $22,190.40.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Postal Inspector in Charge Gary R. Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Barksdale; and Christa Phillips, Inspector General of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said, “Devin Smith and his co-conspirators preyed upon seriously ill hospital patients and their families by using their credit accounts and even opening new credit accounts using their identities. Anyone who finds evidence that their names or credit cards have been used in a fraud scheme should report it to the authorities immediately.”

“While already battling for their lives, the victims in this case also had to fight back against identity theft,” said Gary R. Barksdale, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division. “Postal inspectors are proud of our commitment to fight identity theft, and bring to justice the thieves who misuse the US Mail for this crime.”

According to the statement of facts that were part of Smith’s guilty plea, Smith received personal and financial data belonging to patients at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), where his uncle and co-defendant Kenneth Elliott McDowell, worked as a records technician and had access to patient files. McDowell brought medical records home, in violation of regulations, and Smith entered McDowell’s bedroom when McDowell was away and collected personal identifiers and payment information, including debit card and checking account information, of patients and others who had guaranteed payment to UMMC for the medical treatment of a patient there. In some cases, Smith called patients at their homes in an effort to collect additional personal identifiers and financial information.

Smith recruited other individuals to assist in using the stolen personal information, including his girlfriend, Wendy Hinton, and her neighbor, William White. Smith provided White with fraudulent checks to cash in the scheme. The conspirators also stole the personal financial and identity information of their own family members and others with whom they came in contact. Smith and his co-conspirators used the personal information stolen from the UMMC patient files and from family members and others to open new credit accounts in the identities of the victims, and to access the existing accounts for those victims who had payment information in their files.

As part of the scheme, Devin Smith contacted customer service representatives for the various financial institutions, posing as the customers whose information had been stolen, and requested: that the addresses on the customers’ accounts be changed to addresses accessible to members of the conspiracy; that new checks, credit and/or debit cards be issued on the accounts and sent to the new address; and requested information about the compromised accounts.

Smith and his co-conspirators used the stolen personal and financial information of over 35 victims to fraudulently obtain checks, debit and credit cards to access bank accounts, purchase goods and merchandise, and obtain cash advances, without the victims’ knowledge or permission. Additional individuals had their identity information accessed but not used.

Kenneth Elliott McDowell, age 47; Wendy Hinton, age 22; and William White, age 55, all of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme. McDowell is scheduled to be sentenced on October 12, 2012, at 10:30 a.m., and Wendy Hinton is scheduled to be sentenced on October 18, 2012 , at 9:00 a.m. William White was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by one year of supervised release.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Baltimore City Police Department and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City - Office of Inspector General for their work and expressed appreciation to the University of Maryland Medical Center for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Tamera L. Fine and Mark W. Crooks who prosecuted the case.


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