District Man Pleads Guilty in Fraud Schemes Targeting Tenants at Apartment Complex He Managed
Defendant Used Some Proceeds to Pay Restitution in Earlier Court Case
WASHINGTON – Tyi Michael Tunstall, 30, of Washington, D.C., has pled guilty to charges stemming from various schemes in which he used personal identifying information from others to steal more than $75,000, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and James M. Murray, Special Agent in Charge, Washington Field Office, U.S. Secret Service.
At the time of these offenses, Tunstall was on probation in an earlier fraud case. He used some of the proceeds of these schemes to pay his court-ordered restitution in the earlier case.
Tunstall pled guilty on March 28, 2016 to wire fraud and obstruction of justice. He is to be sentenced June 13, 2016 by the Honorable James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a likely sentence of 33 to 41 months in prison. He also will be required to pay restitution and a forfeiture money judgment.
Tunstall previously pled guilty in September 2013 to a charge of mail fraud. He was sentenced in March 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to five years of probation, with special conditions that he complete six months of home confinement to be followed by 20 weekends in jail. He also was ordered to pay $61,543 in restitution in that case.
According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Tunstall worked from July 2014 to July 2015 for a company that managed a senior citizens’ apartment complex in Washington, D.C., first as an office assistant and later as the complex’s manager. From Sept. 8 through Oct. 27, 2015, he worked at a staffing agency that assigned him to a call center for three credit unions. He used both workplaces as a means to carry out his schemes, as outlined below:
Identity Theft and Fraud at the Apartment Complex:
In one scheme, Tunstall stole the personal identifying information of an 83-year-old resident of the complex and used the information to open multiple accounts at financial institutions from March 2015 to October 2015. He used one card multiple times, causing American Express to incur $1,785 in losses. Tunstall also placed orders on a credit account at Montgomery Ward, causing $225 in losses.
In a separate scheme, Tunstall diverted to himself at least 22 checks and money orders from tenants to the apartment complex, totaling $8,723. These checks and money orders were intended to be used for rent, cable and community room rental. Tunstall added his name to the payee and/or memo line of the checks and money orders and kept them for his personal use.
Tunstall also created 18 additional counterfeit checks, using the names of the apartment complex and two other persons whose information he obtained. Some of these checks were returned, but Tunstall eventually received $1,640.
Identity Theft and Fraud at the Call Center:
While working at the credit union call center, Tunstall accessed a credit union member’s bank accounts. He created a counterfeit check using this account information in the amount of $61,525 and deposited it into his personal bank account. He also transferred $20,000 of the victim’s money to an account that he controlled and that he had set up in the name of the 83-year-old victim.
Tunstall used $52,512 of the proceeds from these schemes to pay off his restitution balance in the earlier case at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In addition to these acts, while he was on probation, Tunstall made a series of false representations to his probation officer and submitted forged documents to the Court, regarding his employment and other issues. This led to a probation revocation hearing on Oct. 29, 2015. At that time, Tunstall told the Court that he was able to pay the balance of his restitution because his grandmother had provided the money. In fact, as Tunstall well knew, he used the money that he had fraudulently obtained from others to pay off the restitution balance. His probation was revoked after the hearing and he has remained in custody ever since.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Special Agent in Charge Murray commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Secret Service’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Montgomery County, Md. Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Criminal Investigator Nicole Hinson and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marston. Finally, they acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter C. Lallas, who is prosecuting the matter.