FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY - June 10, 2008
RALEIGH - Acting United States Attorney John Stuart Bruce announced that in federal court United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced ERIC DAVORNE BAERGA, 24, and his brother IVAN MALIK BAERGA, 31, both of Newark, New Jersey, along with ROLAND WARE, 26, of Raleigh, North Carolina. ERIC BAERGA and WARE each received 46 months’ imprisonment, five years supervised release following their terms of confinement and had restitution in the amount of $437,903.47 imposed. IVAN BAERGA received 51 months’ imprisonment, five years supervised release following his term of imprisonment and had restitution in the amount of $437,903.47 imposed.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Superseding Criminal Indictment on August 15, 2007 charging both the BAERGA brothers and WARE with bank fraud and aiding and abetting in a scheme to defraud Branch Banking and Trust, Wachovia Bank, Bank of America and Suntrust Bank by depositing fraudulent checks into various bank accounts and later withdrawing the money from ATMs with the use of debit cards. All three defendants pled guilty to these charges last fall.
From April 2005, to July 2007, the defendants solicited individuals, or recruited others to solicit individuals, to provide them their debit card and account information. Most, if not all, of the account holders were young college students whom were told they could make between $500 to $1,000 by letting someone use their account to deposit checks.
Once the debit card and account information were received, some unknown individual(s) would deposit fraudulent checks into the accounts. The banks would credit the accounts with the total amount of the checks deposited allowing the customer access to funds which had not yet cleared the bank processing centers.
Between the time the fraudulent checks were deposited and the banks realized that they were fraudulent, the defendants, the account holders (at the defendants request), or some other unknown individual would withdraw the funds using a debit card, ATMs, or counter/teller checks. Over $1.2 million in fraudulent checks were deposited into the various accounts.
Mr. Bruce cautioned, “As we have warned before, if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. All citizens must be wise to scams that provide something for nothing. And all citizens must protect their personal identifying and financial information. We are all our own best prevention against this type of fraud.”
Investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Secret Service. Felice McConnell Corpening handled the case for the United States.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.