Five Indicted in $320,000 Bank Fraud Scheme

March 23, 2011

Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted five individuals in a bank fraud conspiracy where the defendants allegedly created counterfeit checks and stole money using misappropriated bank account information and the personal identifying information of individuals without their knowledge or consent to obtain at least $320,000.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Robert B. Wemyss 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.

Charged in the indictment are:

Nathan A. Silla, age 37, of Glenn Dale, Maryland;
Kodjo Kakra Duncan, age 37, of Capitol Heights, Maryland;
Kodjo Panyin Duncan, age 37, of Lanham, Maryland;
Caleb K. Otsibah, age 37, of Lanham; and
Stephen L. Wise, age 22, of Washington, D.C.

According to the 15-count indictment, the defendants opened bank accounts at financial institutions in their own names, in false names, in the name of a spouse and in the names of corporations they controlled, allegedly using the misappropriated identifying information of at least three individuals to open those accounts and obtain check cards. In addition, the defendants are alleged to have created counterfeit checks, as well as to have obtained and altered checks issued to other individuals and entities, and fraudulently negotiated the checks. The defendants are alleged to have obtained at least $320,000 from depositing and withdrawing forged counterfeited and altered checks.

Further, the indictment seeks forfeiture of $320,000, and any property believe to have been obtained with the proceeds of the scheme, including six flat panel TVs and other electronics; a 2004 Land Rover Range Rover, and jewelry, including a ladies Cartier watch.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Kakra Duncan and Wise are scheduled to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt on March 31, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jillyn Schulze. Silla, Otsibah and Panyin Duncan already had an initial appearance on a previously filed criminal complaint. Otsibah and Panyin Duncan remain detained. Silla was released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

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 United States Attorney Christen A. Sproule, who is prosecuting the case.

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