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Justice News

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

Friday, January 19, 2018

Former Bank Teller Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Stealing More Than $185,000 From Homeless Customer

Defendant Used Money for Island Vacations and Other Personal Benefit

            WASHINGTON – A former bank teller was sentenced today to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay full restitution for stealing more than $185,000 from a longtime customer of the bank, a homeless man, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.


            Phelon Davis, 30, of District Heights, Md., pled guilty in September 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to interstate transportation of stolen property. He was sentenced by the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan. Following his prison term, Davis will be placed on two years of supervised release; the first six months of that time is to be spent on home confinement. Davis already has paid $6,000 in restitution, and the judge today ordered him to pay an additional $179,440. Judge Sullivan also ordered Davis to pay a forfeiture money judgment of $179,440 and to perform 100 hours of community service.


            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, and Mexico.


            In announcing the sentence, 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 Assistant U.S. Attorney Zia M. Faruqui and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kendrack D. Lewis, who handled forfeiture issues; Criminal Investigator Shannon Alexis, and Paralegal Specialist Jessica Mundi.


            Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Kondi Kleinman, who investigated and prosecuted the matter.

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
Updated January 19, 2018