News

Leaders of $2.5 Million Bank Fraud Conspiracy Sentenced to Prison


Stolen Personal Information and Counterfeit Credit Cards of More Than 250 Victims Used to Defraud Banks and Local Businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - Five members of a bank fraud conspiracy that used stolen personal and financial information of more than 250 victims to create fraudulent credit and bank cards, then used the counterfeit cards to defraud financial institutions and retail stores of at least $2.5 million have been sentenced to between four and 10 years in prison.

On July 20, 2012, U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg sentenced the three leaders in the scheme: Moadian Elam Bratton-Bey, age 29; and Ehizele Aydo Seignious, age 33, both of Baltimore, each to 10 years in prison; and sentenced Boaz Bratton-Bey, age 29, of Essex, Maryland, to 102 months in prison, all followed by three years of supervised release.

Today, Judge Legg sentenced managers Wali Hamzah Smith, age 31, and Sherice Myra Jones, age 28, both of Baltimore, to 70 months in prison and four years in prison, respectively, each followed by three years of supervised release.

Judge Legg also ordered all five defendants to pay restitution of $1,213,347.

All of the defendants previously pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Boaz and Moadian Bratton-Bey, Seignious and Smith also pleaded guilty to credit card fraud. All five defendants remain detained.

The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Barbara Golden of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office; and Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.

According to the findings of the Judge, statements made in court at their plea hearings, and in court documents, the fraud scheme operated from approximately December 2007, through February 2011. At various times during the conspiracy, Boaz Bratton-Bey (who also used his brother’s name, as well as the names Azariah Bratton and Keith Banks,) Moadian Bratton-Bey (who also used his brother’s name, as well as the names Modian Elam, Jason Smith, Joshua Builder, Yarachmiel Messing, and Malik Jones) , Ehizele Seignious (who also used the name Mike Smith), Wali Smith and Sherice Jones conspired together and with others in a scheme to defraud financial institutions by taking over existing credit, bank, and other accounts of customers of the financial institutions and obtaining extensions of credit using those accounts.

The Bratton-Beys, Seignious and Sherice Jones received stolen personal and financial data belonging to individuals doing business with health care facilities and collection agencies, collected from customers at local hotels and restaurants using skimming devices, as well as personal account information purchased from the internet. Boaz and Moadian Bratton-Bey, Ehizele Seignious and others, used the stolen personal and financial data to manufacture credit cards embossed with stolen credit and debit card numbers of individual victims.

The leaders of the organization recruited other individuals, known as “strikers”, to use the counterfeit credit cards manufactured and provided to them by the Bratton-Beys, Seignious, Jones and other conspirators, and bearing account numbers belonging to individual victims, to purchase gift cards, high value merchandise which would be exchanged for cash, and other items. Leaders in the conspiracy recruited specific strikers, such as Smith, Jones and others, to manage other strikers. These managers took strikers out to engage in fraudulent transactions, provided the strikers with transportation and with the counterfeit credit cards, sometimes accompanying the strikers into stores. The managers then collected the counterfeit credit cards and the purchases made with them.

All the participants in the scheme, including Boaz and Moadian Bratton-Bey, Seignious, Jones, and Smith personally conducted fraudulent transactions using counterfeit credit cards.

The total loss to the more than 250 victims of the scheme is between $2.5 million and $7 million.

This case arose out of the Maryland Identity Theft Working Group which, since 2006, has brought federal state and local law enforcement together with financial institution investigators and victim advocates to identify and assist in the investigation and prosecution of large identity theft rings operating in Maryland.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Secret Service and Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority Police, Baltimore Police Department, Anne Arundel County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, and Vineland, New Jersey Police for their assistance in the case. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tamera L. Fine and Justin Herring, who prosecuted the case.


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