Former Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Contractor Pleads Guilty to Stealing Monthly Pension Payments by Commandeering Retirees’ Online Accounts
A Florida man pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud in connection with his scheme to steal monthly pension payments from victims enrolled in pension plans managed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu of the District of Columbia and Inspector General Robert A. Westbrooks of the PBGC made the announcement.
According to court documents, Kessey Reggie Durand, 27, of Miami, Florida, used personally identifiable information (PII) he obtained while working as a contractor at the PBGC’s Miami Field Office to create or take over online MyPBA accounts of pension plan participants. After commandeering those accounts, Durand changed the associated electronic direct deposit information in order to funnel victims’ monthly pension payments into accounts Durand controlled. In other cases, Durand tried to change participants’ electronic direct deposit information through social engineering, using stolen PII to call into the PBGC call center to trick operators into believing he was the participant requesting the change.
“Over a five-month span, Durand stole the confidential information of elderly retirees and then used it to commandeer their retirement accounts for his own benefit,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski, “The Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners are committed to rooting out fraud by those who have been entrusted with access to sensitive financial and personal information, especially when that fraud harms vulnerable senior citizens.”
“Kessey Reggie Durand took advantage of his position as a PBGC contractor to use the personal information of retired workers and to steal their monthly pension payments,” said U.S. Attorney Liu, “Our office will aggressively prosecute those who seek to deprive retirees of what may be their only form of income.”
“PBGC’s retirees rightfully expect that their pension accounts are secure and their personal information is safeguarded—especially from insider threats,” said Inspector General Westbrooks, “We will continue to make data protection a top priority and greatly appreciate the support of the Justice Department in helping to ensure the integrity of PBGC’s MyPBA online system.”
According to court documents, Durand’s scheme spanned approximately five months and targeted over $100,000 in monthly pension payments. Sentencing is set for June 28, 2019, before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The case was investigated by the PBGC Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Miami Gardens Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joss Nichols, on detail from the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.