Seven Individuals Arrested in Connection With $7.5 Million Multi-State Paycheck Protection Program Scheme
BOSTON – A Dorchester man was indicted today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with a large-scale scheme to withdrawal money from bank accounts.
Charles Washington, 43, was indicted today on one count of bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud conspiracy. In June 2016, Washington was charged in a criminal complaint and is being held without bail.
According to the indictment, Washington obtained bank account information, personally identifiable information (PII), and sample signatures for bank customers with high balances. He recruited “runners” of the same gender and approximate age as the accountholders to impersonate them inside bank branches and to make unauthorized withdrawals. Washington allegedly obtained and gave the runners fake driver’s licenses that bore the runners’ photographs and the victim accountholders’ PII, and instructed the runners on how to forge the victims’ signatures. To avoid detection of the scheme, runners allegedly withdrew money from victims’ accounts at several different bank branches.
Washington and others also allegedly recruited runners to open bank accounts, known as drop accounts, in the name of non-existent businesses that the runners purported to control. The businesses were registered and named as if they were title companies, property management companies, contracting businesses, and other businesses for which incoming large-dollar wire transfers would not be unusual. Washington allegedly provided the drop account information to co-conspirators, who caused unauthorized wire transfers of hundreds of thousands of dollars into the drop accounts. Once the drop accounts were funded with unauthorized wire transfers, Washington and co-conspirators accompanied runners to bank branches to withdraw the money in cash, by check, or by wire transfers to other drop accounts before the victims of the unauthorized wire transfers realized that their accounts had been compromised.
Washington and co-conspirators paid runners, recruiters, and the sources for bank account information and PII a percentage of the proceeds that runners successfully withdrew.
According to court documents, Washington and co-conspirators gained access to approximately $4 million, either in bank accounts that they took over or in proceeds unlawfully wired into drop accounts for withdrawal, and successfully withdrew approximately $2 million.
The charge of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of $1 million and restitution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Stephen A. Marks, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Boston Field Office; Shelly Binkowski, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto of Ortiz’s Cybercrime Unit.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.