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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Third Defendant Pleads Guilty To Customer Impersonation Bank Fraud Scheme

NORFOLK, Va. – Catya J. Craig, 30, of New York, N.Y., pled guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U. S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen.

Craig was charged in a superseding criminal indictment returned on July 15, 2014, with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of interstate transportation of property converted or taken by fraud.
Craig is the third defendant to plead guilty in a scheme that victimized Wells Fargo and other financial institutions through an extensive mortgage office burglary and bank customer impersonation scheme.  She faces a maximum penalty of thirty (30) years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine when she is sentenced on February 27, 2014, in Norfolk.

According to a statement of facts filed with her plea agreement, Craig was part of a group of individuals that conspired to steal identity and financial information from Wells Fargo Mortgage offices.   There were twelve Wells Fargo offices in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey that were the subject of burglaries from 2012 through 2014.  Over 1,800 mortgage files were stolen that contained identity and financial information.  Craig, who worked for a New York bank at the time, introduced Jeffrey Washington to Alice Howard, who, traveled up and down the East Coast on some seven different trips with Howard impersonating Wells Fargo customers, opening business accounts and transferring balances from true accounts in the newly opened accounts.  They impersonated various bank customers, using counterfeit identifications created from the stolen personal information, and opened business accounts in fake business names in order to drain legitimate customer accounts at various banks of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In August 2013, conspirator Alice Howard was arrested in the course of impersonating a bank customer at a Wells Fargo bank branch in Ashland, Virginia.  Howard was charged with the same scheme and was sentenced to sixty-five (65) months imprisonment in April 2014.  Following Howard’s arrest, Washington continued his involvement in obtaining mortgage files through the burglaries of other mortgage offices.  Washington pled guilty on August 28, 2014 to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and will sentenced on December 5, 2014.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Newport News Police Department.  Assistant U. S. Attorney Brian Samuels is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

Updated March 26, 2015