Insurance Company Clerk Sentenced to Five Years for Identity Theft and Bank Fraud Scheme

Baltimore Woman and Co-Schemers Fraudulently Obtained Over $200,000
in Cash and Merchandise from 89 Individual Victims in a Three Year Period

September 25, 2009

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Shanell Angelia Bowser, age 30, of Baltimore, today to 5 years in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for stealing the personal identifying information of insurance claimants from her employer to fraudulently obtain credit used to purchase merchandise and obtain cash, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Quarles also ordered Bowser to pay $203,627.11 in restitution to the victims of the fraud scheme.

According to Bowser’s plea agreement and other court documents from August 2005 to November 2008, she used her employment as a claims clerk with a medical insurance adjuster to obtain unauthorized access to names, social security numbers and other personal identifying information of client-claimants. Bowser and her co-schemers used this stolen information, as well as personal identifying information taken from patients of a local health care provider and their relatives, to fraudulently apply for credit by telephone or online. Bowser and her co-schemers used the credit to withdraw cash from ATM machines; to purchase clothing, electronics and other items; and for services such as mobile phones, land line phones, internet service and cable/satellite television service.

The online purchases were delivered to the homes of Bowser and her co-schemers, their friends and family, and to vacant homes. Bowser drove around Baltimore City to locate vacant homes to use for delivery addresses. When the goods were shipped to the vacant homes, Bowser would direct others (“runners”) involved in the scheme to go to the vacant homes and bring the packages to Bowser and other co-schemers. Bowser and these co-schemers would take the packages and pay the runners by giving them a fraudulent credit card for their personal use.

Over the course of the three year scheme, Bowser and her co-schemers used stolen identifying information of at least 207 individuals in at least 373 applications for credit accounts from financial institutions. Of those applications, at least 125 fraudulent accounts were opened and used to make purchases in the names of 89 individual victims. Over $200,00 in retail goods and cash advances were purchased and obtained using the fraudulently opened credit accounts.

Co-conspirator Michelle Courtney Johnson, age 31, of Baltimore pleaded guilty to using her employment as a patient services coordinator at Johns Hopkins Medicine to obtain unauthorized access to names, social security numbers and other personal identifying information of over 100 current and former patients of Johns Hopkins. Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for conspiracy to commit bank fraud; and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, consecutive to any term of imprisonment for the conspiracy. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. scheduled sentencing for November 20, 2009, at 11:30 a.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of Inspector General for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and Rachel Miller Yasser, who are prosecuting the case.



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