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Press Release

Harvey Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS, La. – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that CHRISTOPHER WATSON, age 28, has pled guilty on January 22, 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft, stemming from his arrest in Jefferson Parish in the summer of 2018.

According to Court documents, WATSON pled guilty to an elaborate fraud scheme which involved using stolen or fraudulent identities to obtain vehicle financing. WATSON, who previously worked as a used car salesman, submitted numerous fraudulent loan applications to financial institutions and automobile lenders, sometimes using the personal identifying information of his customers without their authorization and other times using stolen identities. Throughout the course of the conspiracy WATSON used either unauthorized or counterfeit information in order to defraud financial institutions and lenders, including USAA Financial, an FDIC-insured financial institution, Westlake Financial Services, and United Auto Credit Corporation, among other victims. In some instances, WATSON utilized the dealer license numbers and names of different legitimate car dealerships and forged their names as sellers of the vehicles on the fraudulent loan applications.

WATSON agreed that he caused a loss of between $250,000.00 and $550,000.00 based upon his own conduct and the reasonably foreseeable conduct of his co-conspirators in the common scheme to defraud. The maximum penalty that WATSON faces for the conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, is up to five years of imprisonment, followed by up to three years supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, WATSON also pled guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft for using the identity of a member of the military to submit a fraudulent auto loan application to USAA Financial. For the aggravated identity theft charge, WATSON faces a two year sentence to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed, followed by one year of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. 

The Honorable Wendy B. Vitter accepted WATSON’s plea and scheduled his sentencing hearing for April 28, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser praised the work of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the United States Secret Service Financial Crimes Taskforce in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Shirin Hakimzadeh is in charge of the prosecution.


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Updated January 23, 2020

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft