News and Press Releases

LEADER OF ID THEFT RING THAT USED INSIDERS AT A MORTGAGE COMPANY AND ESCROW FIRM SENTENCED TO LONG PRISON TERM
Conspirators Responsible for More than $335,000 in Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2007

CHARLES W. GRIFFIN, 36, of Federal Way, Washington was sentenced today to just over seven years in prison, five years of supervised release and $241,492 in restitution for Conspiracy to Commit Identity Theft, Bank Fraud, and one count of Aggravated Identity Theft. The massive identity theft scheme used personal identifying information provided by insiders at a mortgage company and escrow firm. U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez sentenced both GRIFFIN, the ring leader, and RAYNETTE ARMSTRONG, 31, of Seattle. ARMSTRONG, worked at a Bellevue escrow firm, and provided GRIFFIN with personal and financial information on clients of the escrow firm. ARMSTRONG was sentenced to 6 months of home confinement, five years of probation and $29,519 in restitution.

Members of the conspiracy took over bank accounts and drained them, and opened credit accounts in victim names and ran up thousands of dollars in bills. In all more than $335,000 in fraud was linked to this conspiracy. In his sentencing memo Assistant United States Attorney Mark Parrent quoted one of the victims of the ring saying “these people have ruined my life and my credit for a very long time. We spent hours and hours trying to solve all of this, not counting the money and all of the frustration that my family had to go through with this ordeal.”

GRIFFIN recruited ARMSTRONG and others with access to private financial information, to provide personal and financial information that belonged to customers of mortgage companies and escrow firms. Using this information, GRIFFIN and other conspirators were able to locate the victims’ bank accounts and other personal financial information. GRIFFIN recruited two other co-conspirators to make counterfeit drivers licenses, using the names and information of the victims, but bearing the photographs of the co-conspirators. GRIFFIN worked with a number of other co-conspirators to use the fake ID’s to pose as bank account holders. The conspirators traveled to various banks in Oregon and Washington to drain bank accounts. The conspirators also opened credit accounts and racked up huge charges at large stores such as Lowes, Home Depot, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart. They also hit jewelry stores such as Friedlanders and International Jewelers.

Some of the co-conspirators are already serving lengthy prison terms. The primary “runner,” who used the stolen identities, Elizabeth Angous, was sentenced October 13, 2006, to nearly eight years in prison for bank fraud, wire fraud, social security fraud, credit card fraud and Aggravated Identity theft. Belinda Stuckey, was sentenced November 17, 2006 to 42 months in prison for Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. Lamont Jefferson was sentenced to 45 months in prison for Conspiracy to Commit Identity Theft, Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft on November 2, 2007.

These sentences are the result of an eighteen month investigation by a joint task force composed of the Social Security Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), United States Probation, the Lynwood Police Department, the Samamish Police Department and the Seattle Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Norman Barbosa and Mark Parrent.

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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