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SEATTLE AREA MAN WHO FLED TO MEXICO, PLEADS GUILTY TO BANK FRAUD IN “LIES FOR LOANS” SCHEME
Defendant Defrauded Credit Unions with Phony Purchase Orders for Luxury Cars

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2010

MAXI DINGA SOPO, 26, a citizen of Cameroon, who was residing in the Seattle area at the time of the fraud scheme, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to four counts of bank fraud. SOPO was extradited from Mexico last month. He was taken into custody last fall in Cancun after agents tracked him down through his Facebook account. SOPO appears to have fled the Seattle area to Mexico when he learned of the federal investigation. SOPO’s co-conspirator, Edward Asatoorians, was convicted at trial in October 2009, and was sentenced in January to 41 months in prison. SOPO is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman on August 6, 2010.

According to testimony at the trial of Asatoorians and records filed in the case, Asatoorians and SOPO recruited young, naive co-conspirators to apply for car loans for vehicles they never had any intention of purchasing. Under the direction of SOPO, members of the conspiracy lied to the lenders about their employment and monthly income. One was a struggling college student, while the car loan application claimed she was employed and making $15,000 a month. SOPO provided the co-conspirators with fake pay stubs to “document” the income. In his plea agreement, SOPO admits he instructed several borrowers “to represent to the credit unions in question that they were employed by Roseman Rentals, even though he knew this was false, and that they were earning income far above what the Defendant knew to be their actual income.”

In all, the credit unions were defrauded of some $200,000. While some of that money was ultimately repaid, other loans have been charged off for substantial losses. Testimony at the trial of Asatoorians indicated the money was used to try to prop up Asatoorian’s car dealership “London Auto,” and for an extravagant trip to Las Vegas.

Bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Scoville and Thomas Woods.

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

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