News

Baltimore Woman Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft


Stole and Used the Identifying Information and Bank Accounts of Patients and Employees at Assisted Living Facilities Where She Worked

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - Phyllis Wilson, age 39, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme in which Wilson stole the personal identifying information of residents and employees at assisted living facilities where she was employed and used that information to open fraudulent accounts.

The guilty plea was 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; Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG); and Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.

According to Wilson’s plea agreement, between 2004 and June 2009 , Wilson used her positions at four assisted living facilities in the Baltimore area to steal credit cards, check books, personnel records, and other documents with personal identifying information (such as names, addresses, social security numbers) of patients and employees, and used the information to open new, fraudulent accounts in the names of the victims, and to take over existing accounts of the victims for her own benefit without intending to pay for the purchases.

Wilson used the existing accounts and new accounts to obtain cellular phones, purchase merchandise including clothing, personal items, obtain telephone and television services and to purchase food. Wilson also utilized the victims’ bank accounts to pay personal bills, including utility bills, cell phone bills and DirectTV service. Wilson used debit and credit cards to withdraw funds through the ATM machine to obtain cash. Wilson compromised the identities and accounts of at least 20 residents and employees of the assisted living facilities where she worked. Losses associated to these victims from 2004 until at least 2009 total over $120,000.

For example, example, between February 2009 and May 5, 2009, Wilson stole documents, including the credit card, social security card, medical card from a local hospital, and other documents, from JW, a resident at an assisted living facility where Wilson was employed. Wilson used JW’s information to fraudulently access JW’s credit card to make purchases and ATM withdrawals from retailers and banks. On February 15, 2009 JW called the bank to dispute three fraudulent transactions on his credit card totaling $342.61. Following the call from JW, the bank cancelled JW's card and issued a new card to JW. Wilson intercepted the new card, and on February 2, 2009, Wilson called and activated the new card from her mobile phone. After JW’s death on February 25, 2009, Wilson began to use JW’s new credit card on a daily basis to make purchases for her personal benefit. On April 13, 2009 Wilson called the bank from her mobile phone, claiming to be JW. Wilson then changed the address on JW’s account to her home address and changed the number on the account to her mobile phone number. Between February 2009 and and May 5, 2009, Wilson made approximately $24,910.28 of fraudulent transactions on JW's credit card.

Wilson faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for bank fraud, and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg, has scheduled sentencing for September 9, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Secret Service, HHS-OIG and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who is prosecuting the case.

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