Oct. 7, 2009
HOUSTON WOMAN ARRESTED FOR FRAUD AND IDENTITY THEFT
(HOUSTON) - A four-count sealed indictment charging Bisa Abena Northern with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft was unsealed today following her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Calvin Botley, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Northern was arrested on Monday, Oct. 5, 2009, by United States Secret Service agents. At today’s hearing, Judge Botley ordered Northern released upon posting a $1000 deposit of a $100,000 bond with a surety. Arraignment has been set for Oct. 15, 2009, at 10:00 a.m.
Northern, 32, of Houston, was charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft arising from an alleged scheme to transfer money from accounts belonging to two unsuspecting victims to accounts opened in Houston in the victims’ names by Northern. According to the allegations in the indictment returned last week, Northern filed certificates of operation under an assumed name in Harris County in the names of both victims and opened accounts for the assumed business names at Compass Bank in Houston. Then, the indictment alleges, Northern or someone she associated with, posed as the victims and caused funds to be transferred from annuity accounts belonging to the victims to the Compass Bank accounts Northern opened. After $52,000 was transferred from one victim’s annuity account, Northern made seven withdrawals ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 over the course of four consecutive business days at four branch locations in the Houston area. The indictment further alleges that Northern, or someone she associated with, also succeeded in getting $53,765.43 transferred from the second victim’s annuity account; however, Compass Bank froze those funds before they could be withdrawn and returned them to the victim.
The maximum penalty, upon conviction, for each wire fraud count is 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. The maximum penalty, upon conviction, for each aggravated identity theft count is two years in prison in addition to any sentence imposed for the wire fraud counts.
The United States Secret Service conducted the investigation leading to the charges. Assistant United States Attorney Stephen L. Corso will be prosecuting the case.
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