PROSECUTION PRIORITIES FOR ID THEFT WORKING GROUP
The United States Attorney’s Office ID Theft working group is targeting prosecutions in three key areas: ID theft organized criminal rings, insiders using personally identifying information, and repeat offenders. Here are some examples of cases in each of these areas.
ID Theft Organized Criminal Rings
• US v. WARREN ARMSTEAD – Warren Armstead, 50, of Shoreline, Washington recruited drug addicts and others to commit burglaries and thefts throughout the Seattle area. Using bank account and ID information from the burglaries Armstead committed more than $445,000 of fraud. Armstead was convicted following a jury trial in March 2006. Armstead is scheduled to be sentenced October 16, 2006. The government is asking for a sentence of 235 months in prison.
• US v. JUAN VEGA – Juan Vega, 59, of Tukwila, was sentenced February 3, 2006 to 63 months in prison for Misrepresenting a Social Security Number. VEGA was the leader of an identity theft ring that caused more than $300,000 in bank fraud. VEGA purchased the identifying information used in the fraud from a bank employee who was charged last week. Ten members of the ring, many of whom are all related by blood or marriage, have been prosecuted by the government. To date the sentences range from 18 months to 46 months in prison.
• US v. GARY WILLIAMS – Gary Peter Williams, 53, of Seattle, Washington was sentenced April 19, 2005 to 136 months in prison, 5 years of supervised release and $856,878 in restitution for his role as the leader of a major identity theft ring that committed more than a million dollars in Bank Fraud. WILLIAMS obtained the fake ID’s from a supplier in California, drove runners to the banks, instructed them how to open accounts, deposit phoney checks, and make cash withdrawals at numerous banks or casinos. Identifying information (names, social security numbers, account numbers and more) was purchased from various bank employees.
• US v. JOHN KLIMAS – John Gidimin Klimas, 52, of Fremont, California was sentenced September 15, 2006, to four years in prison and two years of supervised release for two counts of Aggravated Identity Theft. KLIMAS and a co-defendant used account information from an insider at U.S. bank to steal $126,906 from customer accounts.
• US v. LAM PHAM– Thang Van Nguyen, 34, of Westminister, California, was sentenced June 2, 2006, to 78 months in prison, five years of supervised release and $1,000,000 in restitution for Bank Fraud. PHAM was the leader of a ring operating in Southern California that committed more than $1.6 million in bank fraud using the stolen identities and bank account numbers of 102 different individuals, most of whom were Starbucks employees. A Starbucks Human Resources Employee, MY TRAN, 30, of Garden Grove, California was sentenced to 42 months in prison and 5 years of supervised release. TRAN accessed a computer system to steal the employee info used in the account takeovers.
• US v. FEDERICO TITO MORED – Federico Tito Mored, 36, of Federal Way, Washington was arrested September 15, 2006 and charged with Computer Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. According to court papers, MORED allegedly used personally identifying information obtained while working as a janitor at US Bank to access customers’ accounts via computer and set up online bill pay functions. MORED then issued payments to himself and others for thousands of dollars. MORED is being held at the federal detention center pending indictment.
• US v. JANELLE BOYD – Janelle Boyd, 24, of Renton, Washington was indicted August 24, 2006 for Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud. According to court filings BOYD was employed by Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union and later by Washington Mutual Consumer Loan Processing Center. According to court records BOYD provided confidential customer information to RAHSAAN MOORE who created a variety of phony IDs in order to commit bank fraud. One aspect of the scheme involved contacting Bank of America customer service to change the mailing address on victims’ accounts. The caller then requested that new debit cards be sent to the new address. BOYD and others allegedly used the debit cards to withdraw funds, sometimes even transferring funds into the account from a line of credit or credit card when the balances were low. BOYD is scheduled to go to trial October 30, 2006. MOORE is being held for Felon in Possession of a Firearm. Prosecutors will seek his indictment in connection with the ID theft ring.
• US v. YVON LAFAYE HENNINGS – Yvone LaFaye Hennings, 47, of Seattle, Washington pleaded guilty August 17, 2006 to Conspiracy to Commit Access Device Fraud and Wire Fraud. According to court records, HENNINGS admits she stole personal identifying information and credit card numbers from her employer, a medical billing company. HENNINGS’ brother then used the information to make unauthorized purchases on the credit card accounts. HENNINGS will be sentenced for her role on November 17, 2006. Her brother, LENNIE LAMONT HENNINGS, is scheduled to go to trial January 17, 2007.
• US v. SCOTT PUTNAM – Scott Daniel Putnam, 43, of Issaquah, Washington was sentenced June 19, 2006, to 51 months in prison, five years of supervised release and $28,357 in restitution for Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. A court authorized search of PUTNAM’s home in October 2004, uncovered identifying information for 75 different individuals. On PUTNAM’s computer investigators found the templates for fraudulent Washington, Oregon and Alaska Drivers Licenses, fraudulent Social Security cards, Disabled Parking placards and bogus checks. Over the next six months PUTNAM was arrested four times for identity theft related transactions. PUTNAM was indicted in March 2006, after investigating officers found another complete counterfeiting mill in his Issaquah trailer, including computer equipment, a scanner, and a laminating machine.
• US v. SHANNON EDWARDS – Shannon Edwards, 32, of Seattle, pleaded guilty August 22, 2006 to Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. EDWARDS used stolen mail to obtain false identifications and account information. EDWARDS opened bank accounts using stolen or fraudulent checks and then withdrew money from accounts before the checks failed to clear. EDWARDS was sentenced to 90 days in jail in King County for this scheme in early 2005. She served 24 days and immediately returned to this criminal enterprise. When sentenced November 16, 2006 she faces 42-48 months in prison.
• US v JANE LUNBECK – Jane Lunbeck, 49, of Auburn Washington pleaded guilty to Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft on May 17, 2006. LUNBECK has been involved in forgery since 1989. In February of 2005 she was sentenced to 45 days in prison for Identity Theft in King County Superior Court. Following her release she had multiple arrests for Forgery and ID Theft. Under federal sentencing guidelines prosecutors will ask for a sentence if 48-50 months when she is sentenced on September 29, 2006.