News and Press Releases

Malik Ashatovich Akishev Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on February 3, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, MALIK ASHATOVICH AKISHEV, a 21-year-old citizen of Russia, pled guilty to possession and receipt of stolen money transferred in interstate commerce. Sentencing is set for May 7, 2009. He is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

AKISHEV is a Russian citizen who came to the United States on a J-1 work visa through a program that sponsors a summer work/travel program placing foreign citizens in entry level jobs in resort areas throughout the country.

In the summer of 2008, AKISHEV was working for a restaurant in Ennis. While working in Ennis, AKISHEV established two bank accounts in town. The first account was at First Madison Valley Bank; the second account was at Flathead Bank (dba Valley Bank).On July 11, 2008, $6,052 was electronically transferred into AKISHEV'S Madison Valley Bank Account from a Fidelity investment account held by U.H. of Oceanside California.

On July 14, 2008, AKISHEV withdrew $6,050 in cash from this account.

On August 13, 2008, U.H. notified Fidelity that she did not authorize the electronic funds transfer (EFT) that moved funds from her California account to AKISHEV'S. Fidelity discovered that on June 26, 2008, EFT bank instructions were created via the Internet that linked U.H.'s account with AKISHEV'S and the money was subsequently wired on July 11, 2008. U.H. did not create or authorize the Internet instructions linking the accounts. Tellers at Madison Valley Bank later confirmed that they were familiar with AKISHEV and witnessed him withdrawing the funds from his account on July 14, 2008.

Later, on August 29, 2008, $14,000 was transferred into AKISHEV'S account from R.D.'s Fidelity account held in California. Days prior to the withdrawal, AKISHEV had been calling the bank inquiring about a $14,000 transfer. It finally arrived on August 29, and AKISHEV withdrew the entire amount in cash.

Shortly after the withdrawal, bank personnel were contacted by security personnel at Fidelity who informed them that an unknown individual had compromised R.D.'s account via the Internet and caused an ACH electronic transfer of funds. R.D. did not authorize this transfer and had reported the fraudulent withdrawal of her funds. As with U.H.'s account, someone had created an electronic funds transfer link between R.D.'s account and AKISHEV'S and initiated the unauthorized online transfer of funds.

Tellers at Valley Bank confirmed that AKISHEV appeared in person to withdraw the money. Shortly after the $14,000 transfer, another online transaction was entered attempting to move additional funds from R.D.'s account. However, Fidelity deleted the transaction before it could be processed.

On September 4, 2008, law enforcement discovered that AKISHEV was scheduled to depart for New York and then Moscow. Madison County Sheriff's officers arrested AKISHEV that day on local theft charges and discovered over $9,000 in cash wrapped in "Valley Bank" bands along with other evidence.

AKISHEV faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M. Archer prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Madison County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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