SANTA ANA, California – A federal judge has convicted a Los Angeles man of three counts of aggravated identity theft for using the secret codes of elderly Bank of America customers to make fraudulent withdrawals at ATMs in Los Angeles and Orange County.
In a written order issued yesterday, Daniel Jermaine Usher, 26, of South Los Angeles, was found guilty of three counts of aggravated identity theft. The verdict was issued by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney, who presided over a two-day bench trial.
The trial came after Usher pleaded guilty last month to five counts of bank fraud and admitted that he illegally withdrew cash from Bank of America ATMs.
Judge Carney convicted Usher on the same day the Justice Department announced cases against more than 250 defendants who targeted the elderly in fraud cases.
The evidence presented at Usher’s trial showed that Usher engaged in “shoulder surfing” to obtain bank customer PIN numbers. Usher loitered near Bank of America ATMs and covertly watched as customers entered their PINs to conduct various transactions. When customers left the ATMs without concluding their sessions, Usher quickly re-entered PIN he had covertly obtained, which allowed him to fraudulently withdraw cash.
The accountholders targeted in Usher’s shoulder-surfing activity were elderly and minority individuals. The three victims of the identity theft charges – two of whom required translators at trial – testified that they had not given Usher or anyone else permission to use their account information.
In his ruling, Judge Carney found that “Mr. Usher piggybacked off of the victims’ use of their ATM cards and the encoded information therein and misrepresented himself as the victims by re-entering their PIN to fraudulently withdraw funds.”
Judge Carney scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 21, at which time Usher will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal for each of the five bank fraud counts, and a mandatory two-year sentence for the aggravated identity theft counts.
The investigation into Usher’s shoulder-surfing activity was conducted by the United States Secret Service.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Paul C. LeBlanc and Daniel S. Lim of the Santa Ana Branch Office.