Reston Man Sentenced for Counterfeit COVID-19 Stimulus Checks Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Reston man was sentenced today to 70 months in prison for 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’s extensive fraud scheme involved the unlawful acquisition of personal identification information belonging to over 150 individuals,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “In addition to causing financial harm to the individuals from whom he stole checks and credit cards, the defendant’s sweeping criminal conduct also inflicted emotional harm and distress to his identity theft victims. As this case demonstrates, we are determined to hold accountable those who seek to illegally enrich themselves by defrauding and stealing from our residents.”
According to court documents, between approximately December 2019 and August 2020, Jonathan Drew, 39, stole U.S. mail addressed to more than 150 individuals in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. 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.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; Daniel A. Adame, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Kevin Davis, Fairfax County Chief of Police; and Michael L. Chapman, Loudoun County Sheriff, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Olivia Zhu and Roberta O. Roberts, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg prosecuted the case.
On May 17, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
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.