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March 9, 2010

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(HOUSTON) - A Houston area bank teller has pleaded guilty to bank fraud arising from a scheme to steal thousands of dollars from his former employer’s customer accounts, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Christopher Martin, 25, of Houston, appeared before United States District Judge Nancy Atlas today and pleaded guilty to bank fraud admitting that while employed as a bank teller, he sold customer account information leading to the theft of $53,000 from customer accounts at First Convenience Bank. Martin is no longer employed by the bank.

As a bank teller, Martin was responsible for conducting banking transactions which gave Martin access to account information of First Convenience Bank customers. Martin sold customer account information to an unknown individual who paid Martin between $500 to $800 for each customer’s account information. The purchaser then used the customer account information to withdraw monies from the customers’ accounts. Six bank customer accounts were compromised. Martin used the money he received from the scheme for living expenses.

On at least one occasion, the purchaser transferred money he had stolen to a fraudulent account opened by Martin at First Convenience Bank. Martin then created an ATM card linked to the fraudulent account. Martin used the ATM card to withdraw funds from the fraudulent account and to pay restaurant charges.

Judge Atlas has set sentencing for May 25, 2010, and permitted Martin to remain on bond pending that hearing. Martin faces up to 30 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $1 million as well as a five-year-term of supervised release. Martin will also have to pay restitution to First Convenience Bank which reimbursed its customers any funds taken from their accounts.

The investigation leading to charges was conducted by the United States Secret Service and was initiated in 2008 prompted by First Convenience Bank’s discovery of the embezzlement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Vernon Lewis is prosecuting the case.


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