News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Fergus Falls woman, others sentenced for stealing cash from
victims’ bank accounts, identity theft

November 22, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS – Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, the last of four Minnesotans
was sentenced for operating an identity theft ring involving the creation of fraudulent
identification cards and checks that were eventually cashed at businesses and banks in three
states. United States District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank sentenced Malinda Ann Shaw, age
26, of Fergus Falls, to 24 months in prison on one count of bank fraud conspiracy, two counts of
bank fraud, one count of identity theft, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Shaw, who
was indicted along with three co-defendants on June 8, 2010, pleaded guilty on October 28,

On June 9, 2011, Christopher Englin, age 29, of Detroit Lakes, was sentenced to 30 months
on one count of bank fraud conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud, one count of identity theft, and
two counts of aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty on November 3, 2010. On June 8,
2011, Judge Frank sentenced Nadean Hope Rans, age 36, of Shakopee, to 32 months on one
count of bank fraud conspiracy, one count of possession of document-making implements, and
one count of identity theft. She pleaded guilty on October 24, 2010. On May 4, 2011, Judge
Frank sentenced Melissa Mae Oquin, age 33, of Minneapolis, to 21 months on one count of bank
fraud conspiracy. She pleaded guilty on October 29, 2010. In addition, all four defendants were
ordered to pay $17,919.27 in joint restitution.

Following today’s sentencing, Oscar S. Villanueva, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge of the
Denver Division, which also covers the Twin Cities, said, “This case has demonstrated how well
local and federal law enforcement agencies can come together to solve multi-jurisdictional
crimes such as identity theft. The Postal Inspection Service would like to thank its law
enforcement partners in this case for their assistance, and to remind the American public that the
U.S. Mail is still one of the safest and most trusted means of communication in use today. Those
who are considering stealing or using the mail to commit their crimes will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

In their plea agreements, the defendants admitted that from September 1, 2007, through
April 30, 2008, they executed a scheme that involved stealing personal information from
between 10 and 50 victims and using that information to manufacture false identification cards
and fraudulent checks. Those items were then used at various locations in Minnesota, North
Dakota, and Wisconsin to obtain cash. Englin and Shaw admitted they stole mail from victims
and used the personal information obtained from that mail to make the false identification
material. They also admitted using laptop computers, printers, scanners, check stock paper, and
memory cards to produce the false identification cards and checks.

Specifically, the fraudulent material was used to steal $120.94 from an account at Union
State Bank on October 25, 2007, and $455.08 from an account at Wells Fargo Bank on February
8, 2008. Shaw also admitted renting a U-Haul truck on January 9, 2008, for the purpose of
transporting from Fergus Falls to Minneapolis personal property purchased with the false
identification and fraudulent checks. Those items were traded for illegal drugs and other items
that were shared with the co-conspirators. Eventually, the truck was abandoned and discovered
by law enforcement on January 22, 2008. Inside the truck, officers found pieces of personal and
financial information regarding victims of the scam along with a computer and paperwork
belonging to Shaw and Englin. The computer contained check writing software, graphics of
identification documents, and bank checks, as well as e-mails between Oquin and Shaw.

On February 9, 2008, Shaw and Englin were arrested after attempting to flee police
following a traffic stop. They were driving a vehicle owned by Rans. Inside the vehicle, police
seized false identifications, check stock paper, and checks in the names of various victims of the
scam. On March 5, 2008, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Rans’s residence and
seized fraudulent identification cards, five computers, a printer, and victim personal
identification information.

In her plea agreement, Rans admitted that she received a false identification card for the
purpose of assisting Shaw and Englin in cashing fraudulent checks. In addition, Rans admitted
driving Shaw and Englin to Mills Fleet Farm in Fergus Falls on November 7, 2007, where they
cashed a fraudulent check. She also drove them to other stores in Fergus Falls and Moorhead
between November of 2007 and January of 2008 to cash fraudulent checks. In addition, Rans
admitted that in December of 2007, she cashed three fraudulent checks at Wells Fargo Bank for a
total of $490.97. The scheme resulted in a total estimated loss of between $70,000 and $120,000.

This case was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service
(“USPIS”), the Fergus Falls Police Department, the Ottertail County Sheriff’s Office, the
Wadena Police Department, the Alexandria Police Department, the Minneapolis Police
Department, and the U.S. Secret Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly
M. Hare.

The USPIS and the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office want to remind people to protect themselves from identity theft. For more information, visit –

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