Man Pleads Guilty to Counterfeit COVID-19 Stimulus Checks Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Reston man pleaded guilty today to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to create counterfeit Economic Impact Payments (also known as COVID-19 stimulus checks), and for attempting to conduct a series of fraudulent financial transactions.
“The defendant illegally obtained the personal identifiers and financial information of more than 150 individuals in EDVA by stealing their mail, which he then used to conduct fraudulent transactions and create counterfeit COVID-19 stimulus checks,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are firmly committed to holding accountable fraudsters who engage in identity theft and exploit a national economic crisis for personal gain at the expense of hardworking members of our communities.”
According to court documents, Jonathan Drew, 38, stole U.S. mail addressed to more than 150 individuals in Fairfax County between approximately December 2019 and August 2020. The mail Drew stole included bank statements, credit cards, credit card statements, W-2 forms, and more than $700,000 in checks, including a COVID-19 stimulus payment and checks Drew used to create counterfeit checks.
According to court documents, Drew used the stolen stimulus check to create counterfeit stimulus checks ranging from $1,200 to $2,400, and he negotiated his own authentically issued stimulus check twice. Drew also used the personally identifiable information of several individuals without authorization to lease an apartment, open bank accounts, and attempt to conduct fraudulent transactions through counterfeit checks, forged checks, unauthorized use of credit cards, and wire transfers.
Drew is scheduled to be sentenced on August 25. He faces a maximum penalty of 32 years in prison, including a mandatory minimum of two years. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; David M. Rohrer, Fairfax County Interim Chief of Police and Deputy County Executive for Public Safety; and Michael L. Chapman, Loudoun County Sheriff, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberta O. Roberts and Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-71.