Dorchester Man Pleads Guilty to Role in $4 Million Bank Fraud Conspiracy
BOSTON – A Dorchester man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with a $4 million bank fraud scheme.
Charles Washington, 44, pleaded guilty today to one count of bank fraud conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud for his role in coordinating unauthorized withdrawals from federally insured banks. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for Nov. 2, 2017.
Washington obtained bank account information, personally identifiable information, and sample signatures for bank customers with high balances. He recruited runners to impersonate the account holders at bank branches in order to make unauthorized withdrawals and obtained and distributed fake driver’s licenses to the runners that bore the runners’ photographs with the account holders’ personal information. Washington instructed the runners on how to forge the victims’ signatures. To avoid detection, runners withdrew money from victims’ accounts at several different bank branches.
Washington and others also recruited runners to open bank accounts (known as drop accounts) in the name of non-existent businesses (known as shell business). The shell 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 provided the shell businesses’ information to co-conspirators who made unauthorized wire transfers in the 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 gained unauthorized access to approximately $4 million - either in bank accounts that they took over, or in proceeds unlawfully wired to drop accounts for withdrawal - and successfully withdrew approximately $2 million.
The charges of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy provide for a sentence of no greater than 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of $1 million, and restitution. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; 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. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto of Weinreb’s Cybercrime Unit is prosecuting the case.