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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

72 Year-old Defendant Sentenced to Prison for Fraud Scheme and Attempt to Hack into Bank’s Computer System

            TUCSON, Ariz. – On Jan. 5, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge James A. Soto sentenced Howard Dennis Barnes, age 72, to 72 months in federal prison.   Barnes had previously pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and attempted fraud in connection with computers, both felonies.

            As part of his scheme, Barnes offered real property that he did not own for sale over the internet using Craigslist.  In exchange for payment from an unsuspecting buyer, Barnes would impersonate the real owner of the property, forge a deed purporting to transfer the property to the buyer, and mail the fraudulent deed to the buyer.  Barnes also forged a will that purported to transfer one of his victim’s estates to others who were not the valid heirs.   

Barnes also attempted to steal confidential financial information from an entity that he believed was a bank.  Barnes provided an undercover agent, posing as a bank employee, a thumb drive that contained a secret computer program or a Trojan that Barnes believed would be capable of allowing him to gain unauthorized access to the account holders of the bank’s computer system.  Barnes admitted he committed such act so he could unlawfully obtain money from the bank’s customers without their knowledge.  

            The investigation in this case was conducted by the United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Tucson Police Department. The prosecution was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson.

CASE NUMBER:                  CR-13-567-TUC-JAS (DTF)
RELEASE NUMBER:           2015-003_Barnes

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Updated January 8, 2015