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May 31, 2012

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Harlingen Man Convicted in Bank Fraud Scheme

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Curtis Sparks, of Harlingen, Texas, has pleaded guilty to defrauding USAA Federal Savings Bank in a scheme that lasted several months and netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Sparks, 29, entered the guilty plea today before United States District Judge Hilda G. Tagle.

From March 2011 to March 2012, Sparks engaged in a scheme to defraud USAA Federal Savings Bank, a FDIC-insured financial institution. As part of the scheme, Sparks opened 24 checking and savings accounts using 19 different identities. He would then request credit card advances using stolen account information from other financial institutions to fund the checking and savings accounts he opened at USAA. In total, Sparks requested $187,541 in fraudulent cash advances from various financial institutions, including Bank of America, Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, Capital One Bank, Citi Bank and Chase Bank. 

After the fraudulent accounts were opened and funded with stolen credit card cash advances, Sparks would request debit cards associated with the checking and savings accounts and provided numerous mailing addresses in the Harlingen area where the debit cards would be mailed. He then used the debit cards to withdraw cash from the USAA checking and savings accounts.

Sparks faces up to 30 years in prison followed by a maximum five years of supervised release as well as a possible $1 million fine at his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Aug. 27, 2012. He will remain in federal custody pending that hearing.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys V. LaTawn Warsaw and Karen Betancourt.