News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Maplewood man sentenced for scheming more than $860,000 from financial institutions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2012


MINNEAPOLIS – Earlier today in federal court, a 40-year-old Maplewood man was
sentenced in federal court for taking more than $860,000 from the accounts of others at various
financial institutions. United States District Court Judge David Doty sentenced Marcus
Kwamena Benson to 144 months in prison as a result of being convicted of numerous bank fraud
charges, including on one count of bank fraud conspiracy, nine counts of bank fraud, three
counts of access device fraud, 10 counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of possession of
document-making implements, one count of possession of unauthorized access devices, and one
count of possession of device-making equipment. Benson was indicted on Sept. 15, 2008, and
following a four-day trial, which ended with his conviction, fled to Ghana, using a false passport.
He recently was captured by authorities and returned to the District of Minnesota.

Following today’s sentencing, Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Tommy D. Coke, Denver
Division, which includes the Twin Cities, said, “The sentencing today illustrates the commitment
of Postal inspectors to the protect the U.S. mail by investigating those individuals who use the
mail in the furtherance of their schemes to defraud. A special thanks to the U.S. Attorney’s
Office and the U.S. Marshals Service, which were instrumental in bringing Benson back from
Africa to face these charges and to serve time for the crimes he had committed.”

Evidence at trial demonstrated that Benson used the names and personal identification
information of account holders to apply for and receive credit cards from financial institutions,
which he then used to get cash advances. Benson also obtained funds from the home equity
accounts of others by ordering checks in their names, having those checks sent to addresses he
controlled, and then using the checks to withdraw cash from the equity line accounts. In all, the
trial jury found that Benson used the identities of others on 10 different occasions.

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), authorities began investigating Benson in June 2008, after being notified by a fraud inspector at US Bank about a high number
of fraudulent online credit card applications. It was determined the card issued as a result of one
of those applications was sent to a foreclosed St. Paul residence at which Benson had resided
from August of 2003 to February of 2007. On three dates, Benson was captured on surveillance
video at a US Bank ATM, withdrawing money from an account associated with that card.
As part of their investigation, law enforcement executed a search warrant on Benson’s
Maplewood home on August 25, 2008. There, Benson possessed document-making implements
(computers, a scanner, and a printer) intended to produce false identification documents. He also
was in possession of 15 or more unauthorized credit cards as well as equipment used to make
credit card encoders intended to defraud people.

In 2011, Benson was detained after attempting to fly from Ghana to Kenya. Ultimately, he
was extradited to the U.S. During his absence from this country, law enforcement discovered that
he had also participated in a check-cashing scheme with multiple co-conspirators that had not yet
been discovered at the time of his trial. Benson will not be charged in connection with fleeing
prior to his initial sentencing.

This case was the result of an investigation by the USPIS, the Minnesota Bureau of
Criminal Apprehension, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security
Investigations, the Minnesota State Patrol, US Bank, Capital One, Chase Bank and Citibank. The
case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys LeeAnn K. Bell and Lola A. Velazguez-Aguilu.

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