WASHINGTON – A former bank teller pled guilty today to stealing more than $185,000 from a longtime customer of the bank, a homeless man, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Andrew Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Phelon Davis, 29, of District Heights, Md., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to interstate transportation of stolen property. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Davis faces a likely range of 18 to 30 months in prison and a potential fine. The plea agreement calls for Davis to pay $185,440 in restitution and an equal amount in a forfeiture money judgment. Davis will be sentenced at a later date by the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan.
According to a statement of offense submitted at the plea hearing, Davis worked in 2014 as a teller at a national bank in Washington, D.C. One of the bank’s longtime customers, who was homeless and earned money as a street vendor, maintained more than one account with the bank. However, by October 2014, his accounts had gone dormant due to a lack of activity.
In October 2014, the customer attempted to deposit thousands of dollars into one of his accounts. Because he lacked identification and the accounts had gone into dormant status, Davis instructed the customer where to go to obtain identification documents and a Social Security card. In reviewing the customer’s accounts, Davis noticed that the customer had a surprisingly large balance. As a result, Davis devised a scheme to fraudulently obtain the customer’s money.
Later that month, Davis used the identification means of the customer to fraudulently open a new account in the customer’s name. He forged the customer’s signature on the application and had an ATM card issued for the newly opened account. Over the next two years, without the customer’s knowledge, Davis logged into the customer’s accounts online and transferred money between the accounts. All told, from approximately Oct. 22, 2014 through Oct. 26, 2016, Davis used ATMs on 144 occasions to withdraw $185,440 from the customer’s accounts. The customer, meanwhile, did not receive bank statements during this time, did not use e-mail, and did not have access to a computer.
Davis used the stolen money for his personal benefit, including funding a down payment on his residence, paying off personal debt, and paying for vacations in Jamaica, Aruba, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu and Assistant Director in Charge Vale commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Criminal Investigator Shannon Alexis, Paralegal Specialist Jessica Mundi, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kondi Kleinman, who is prosecuting the matter.