Seventh Conspirator in Bank Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty

Opened Accounts in the Names of Bogus Companies and Used Those Accounts to Deposit Counterfeit Checks and to Write Checks on Victim Funds

May 23, 2012

Greenbelt, Maryland - Raffie Tabbal, age 40, of Montgomery Village, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to steal money using misappropriated bank account information and the personal identifying information of individuals without their knowledge or consent to obtain at least $70,000. At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. ordered that Tabbal be detained pending sentencing, which he scheduled for September 6, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; and Special Agent in Charge David Beach of the United States Secret Service – Washington Field Office.

According to his plea agreement, beginning in December 2009, Tabbal conspired with Nathan Silla to obtain a counterfeit Maryland driver’s license using the name and date of birth of a victim individual but bearing Tabbal’s picture. On December 28, 2009, Tabbal incorporated “DC Limos Inc” in Maryland, using the name of the victim as incorporator and resident agent, and in January, 2010, opened bank accounts in the name of “DC Limos Inc,” using the counterfeit driver’s license in the victim’s name as identification to open the account.

Silla and other conspirators obtained checks from victim individuals and corporations, which they washed to remove the actual payee’s names, then printed with the name of a conspirator, or one of the names being used by the conspirators. Silla and the other conspirators would then deposit these altered checks into accounts they controlled, including the DC Limos accounts controlled by Tabbal. Silla and others also created counterfeit checks by printing the misappropriated name and bank account information of victim individuals and companies, onto counterfeit checks. Conspirators then wrote out those checks in various amounts and made them payable to conspirators or companies controlled by conspirators, and deposited the counterfeit checks into accounts they controlled, including into the DC Limos accounts, at various bank branches in Montgomery and Prince George’s County, Maryland, thereby drawing funds from the victims’ accounts. At least three counterfeit checks were deposited into the DC Limos accounts totaling $107,401.32.

As a further part of the conspiracy, Tabbal wrote checks on the DC Limos accounts when those accounts contained victim funds, to other members of the conspiracy and to RT Luxury Transportation, a company which Tabbal controlled. Tabbal provided some of those checks to other members of the conspiracy, and Tabbal, Silla, and other members of the conspiracy deposited the checks into accounts they controlled or presented them at bank branches in Montgomery and Prince George’s County, Maryland, and in Washington, D.C., for cash. Tabbal deposited the checks written to RT Luxury Transportation into a bank account that he controlled, and used a portion of those funds for his personal benefit. Tabbal wrote and signed at least eight checks out of the DC Limos account at the time that the account contained fraudulently obtained victim funds.

The total loss caused by Tabbal’s conduct is between $70,000 and $120,000.

Tabbal faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft. As part of his plea agreement, Tabbal is also required to pay restitution in the full amount of the victim’s losses, which is at least $42,452.28.

Nathan Silla, age 38, of Glenn Dale, Maryland, pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 13, 2012, at 2:00 p.m.

Co-defendants Olumide Babafemi Ogunmakinwa, age 45, of Brandywine, Maryland; Kodjo Kakra Duncan, age 39, of Capitol Heights, Maryland; Kodjo Panyin Duncan, age 39, of Lanham, Maryland; Caleb K. Otsibah, age 38, of Lanham; and Stephen L. Wise, age 23, of Washington, D.C., have also pleaded guilty to their participation in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Christen A. Sproule, who is prosecuting the case.

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