News and Press Releases

SEATTLE WOMAN SENTENCED TO FOUR YEAR PRISON TERM--WAS LEADER OF BANK FRAUD AND ID THEFT RING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2005

SHIMITRA RUSHONDA ELLIS, 30, of Seattle, was sentenced today to four years in prison, five years of supervised release and $164,489.49 in restitution for thirty counts of Bank Fraud and four counts of Fraudulent Use of Another Person's Means of Identification. ELLIS was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik. She is the last of some 22 defendants in the case to be sentenced.

An extensive investigation revealed that ELLIS would steal identities and then open bank accounts in victims' names. ELLIS recruited people to cash multiple worthless checks drawn on these accounts and on bank accounts that had been closed. Those working with ELLIS in the fraud scheme would then return most of the ill gotten cash to ELLIS. The banks lost nearly $165,000 because of ELLIS' fraud.

Victims' identities were stolen in a variety of ways. One woman had her identity stolen after her purse was taken. Victims whose identities were stolen struggled to restore their credit histories – one victim even had to change her name to try to repair the damage. Multiple banks were defrauded including U.S. Bank, Qualstar Credit Union, Columbia State Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank.

The case was investigated by the FBI, King County Sheriff's Office and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Karyn Johnson and Sue Harrison prosecuted the participants in the bank fraud and ID theft ring.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110.

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