News and Press Releases

Used Stolen and Counterfeit Checks to Inflate Bank Accounts then Stole Money

November 17, 2006

BELINDA STUCKEY, 35, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today to 42 months in prison and five years of supervised release for Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. Under the Aggravated Identity Theft statute that became law in 2004, a mandatory 24 month term is imposed consecutive to the underlying conviction. In this case STUCKEY was sentenced to 18 months for Bank Fraud, with the additional 24 months bringing her sentence to 42 months in prison. At sentencing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said he didn’t think STUCKEY realized the harm she did to the ID theft victims saying, “I wish I could sentence you to spend the next ten years helping these people straighten out their credit histories.”

In the fall of 2004, Bank of America investigators noticed a series of account takeovers where stolen or counterfeit checks had been used to inflate bank balances, then ATM withdrawals were used to drain the accounts. The account owners reported their ATM cards lost or stolen. Using bank surveillance video, federal agents with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Social Security Administration were able to identify BELINDA STUCKEY in connection with the case. The investigation revealed that some of the checks used to inflate the accounts belonged to victims of identity theft. In one instance the victim had reported to Seattle Police that someone had fraudulently submitted a change of address on her bank account, and then placed an order for replacement checks. The checks were used to inflate other bank accounts. Other ID theft victims reported that bank accounts were opened in their names without their permission or knowledge. In all STUCKEY deposited stolen or counterfeit checks on 34 occasions between October and December 2004.

STUCKEY pleaded guilty to Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft on July 17, 2006.

Special Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa asked for a significant sentence for STUCKEY saying the public needed to be protected from her crimes. “Ms. Stuckey has an extensive criminal history including a prior conviction in the Western District of Washington for Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and numerous State convictions for fraud offenses.... (This) demonstrates the need for a long period of incarceration to protect the public from someone who is so likely to re-offend when released,” Barbosa wrote in his sentencing memorandum.

STUCKEY was prosecuted as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Working Group on Identity Theft. The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG). The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa. Mr. Barbosa's position is funded by the Social Security Administration as a part of SSA's efforts to combat identity theft and Social Security fraud.

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

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