Sixteen Persons Charged in Bank Fraud & Identity Theft Conspiracy
Las Vegas, Nev. - Sixteen individuals, including three bank employees, have been charged in an 81-count Federal Indictment with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, identity theft, and passing counterfeit securities, for stealing the information of bank customers and using it to fraudulently obtain monies and funds, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
"This case illustrates the serious problems we are facing with identity theft and fraud in Nevada," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "The U.S. Attorney's Office, working in conjunction with its federal, state and local law enforcement partners, has made it a high priority to target and prosecute organized groups of criminals who use sophisticated techniques and prey on multiple victims to commit identity theft crimes."
The Indictment, returned by the Federal Grand Jury in Las Vegas on January 3, 2006, and unsealed on January 11, 2006, charges 16 defendants with Conspiracy to Commit Identity Theft, Bank Fraud, and to Make, Utter and Pass Counterfeit Securities. The defendants are also charged variously with Identity Theft, Production of False Identification Documents, Bank Fraud, Making, Uttering and Passing Counterfeit Securities, and Money Laundering. Six of the defendants have been arrested and/or self-surrendered to authorities and have made their initial appearances in court. The rest are at large.
The Indictment states that the principle objective of the conspiracy was to unlawfully obtain the information of bank account holders in order to produce counterfeit checks and fraudulently obtain monies, funds and other properties, etc. for the personal benefit of the defendants and their co-conspirators. The Indictment states that defendants LISA PERRY, MUHAMMAD ALI, and OMAR RICHARDSON, were employed at Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, and Nevada State Bank, respectively. Another unnamed co-conspirator worked at Bank One.
The Indictment alleges that defendants PERRY, ALI, and RICHARDSON, under the direction of NELSON OSEMWENGIE, KINGSLEY OSEMWENGIE, and FRANCISCO ESCAMILLA, fraudulently accessed customer bank accounts and transferred account information to NELSON OSEMWENGIE, KINGSLEY OSEMWENGIE, FRANCISCO ESCAMILLA, and other co-conspirators. NELSON and KINGSLEY OSEMWENGIE then accessed the bank accounts and made counterfeit checks payable to the defendants and their co-conspirators. The checks were passed and negotiated by members of the conspiracy.
Between December 24, 2004, and September 6, 2005, the Indictment alleges that 12 Bank One accounts, eight Wells Fargo accounts, five Nevada State Bank accounts, and 12 Bank of America accounts were fraudulently accessed by the defendants and co-conspirators. The defendants allegedly negotiated or attempted to negotiate 14 checks drawn against Nevada State Bank accounts totaling $144,213 and nine checks drawn against Bank of America accounts totaling $151,300.
The Indictment specifically cites two instances in which the defendants and co-conspirators used the information to produce false identification documents bearing the names of the true account holders but the photographs of the conspirators. The false documents included two Nevada Driver's Licenses and University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) student identification cards in the name of two victim account holders, and bearing the photograph of KINGSLEY OSEMWENGIE. On or about January 11, 2005, KINGSLEY OSEMWENGIE allegedly presented such false identification and a fraudulent withdrawal slip at a Bank One branch office in Prescott, Arizona, to withdraw $6,800 from the victim's account, and on the same date, to attempt to withdraw $4,700 from the victim's account at another Bank One branch office in Prescott, Arizona.
The Indictment states that if convicted, the defendants shall forfeit up to $261,565 in U.S. Currency, including a 2003 Land Rover Range Rover registered in the name of Nelson Osemwengie and Philomena Osemwengie; a 2000 Mercedes S430 Sedan registered to Kingsley Osemwengie; funds in two Bank of America accounts in the name of Nelson and Philomena Osemwengie; U.S. Currency in the custody of the Prescott, Arizona Police Department; a residence located at 2271 Chestnut Bluffs, in Henderson, Nevada; and the business license and contents of "Premises Boutique," including a 40-inch flat screen television and digital camera.
NELSON OSEMWENGIE, KINGSLEY OSEMWENGIE, and four other individuals (not named in the 81-count Indictment) have also been charged with Conspiracy, Use of Counterfeit Access Devices, Possession of Counterfeit U.S. Currency, Possession of Device Making Equipment, Possession of Fraudulent Access Devices, Possession of Document Making Implements, and Interstate Transportation of Stolen Goods in Case No. CR-S-05-100, filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas in July 2005. The case is pending, and trial is currently scheduled to begin on February 6, 2006. It alleges the defendants used "skimming" equipment at commercial businesses in the Las Vegas area to steal credit card and bank account information. "Skimming" is a process by which individuals steal the magnetic information from victim credit cards and bank debit cards through the use of a "wedge" or other instrument. With the stolen information, the defendants allegedly manufactured counterfeit credit and debit cards to fraudulently obtain money, goods and services, including over $75,000 in United States Post Office Money Orders.
This case is a result of an investigation by the Southwestern Identity Theft and Fraud Task Force (SWIFT), comprised of representatives of the United States Secret Service, Henderson Police Department, Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles Criminal Enforcement Division, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly M. Frayn.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.