News and Press Releases

Spartanburg Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2014

Contact Person: Bill Watkins (864) 282-2100

Columbia, South Carolina -----United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Michael L. Wolfenbarger, age 42, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, pled guilty today in federal court in Anderson, South Carolina, to wire fraud, a violation of 18 U.S.C. ' 1343.  United States District Judge Timothy M. Cain accepted the plea and will sentence Wolfenbarger once a pre-sentence investigation report has been prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Wolfenbarger acted as the middleman between various automotive dealerships and private individuals in the purchase and sale of used vehicles.  Wolfenbarger utilized bank accounts at Branch Banking & Trust Company and The Palmetto Bank in his business affairs.  Wolfenbarger would write checks drawn on bank accounts with insufficient funds or create counterfeit instruments and deposit these checks into other accounts. The pattern of depositing insufficient funds (“NSF”) checks and counterfeit instruments resulted in the books and records of the Banks showing inflated balances that permitted these NSF checks or counterfeit instruments to be honored rather than returned unpaid. Wolfenbarger would then withdraw monies from the Banks and/or write checks for goods and services based on inflated balances and thus take advantage of the time required for a check deposited in one bank to be physically presented for payment at the bank on which it was drawn.  It was further part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that Wolfenbarger, rather than remitting funds to the automotive dealerships once a used vehicle had been sold, would deposit these funds in accounts with the Banks in an effort to perpetuate the kite and cover bad checks that he had written.  Through this scheme an artifice, the victims lost in excess of $1 million.

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.

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