Belstsville Fraudster Sentenced to over 9 years in Prison in Elaborate Scheme to Steal Over $1 Million from an Individual’s Bank and Retirement Accounts
Used Stolen Personal Identifying Information to Pose as the Victim, Change the Victim’s Online Password and Email Address, and Stop Delivery of Mail in Attempt to Avoid Detection
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm sentenced Alimamy Barrie, age 31, of Beltsville, Maryland, today to 112 months and a day in prison followed by three years of supervised release for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and committing an offense while on supervised release. Judge Grimm also ordered that Barrie pay $26,500 in restitution.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Kathy A. Michalko of the United States Secret Service - Washington Field Office; and Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. of the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department.
According to evidence presented during the seven day trial, in 2011, Barrie was arrested and charged in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia with aggravated identity theft. On September 26, 2011, Barrie was placed on pretrial release, and notified by court order of the potential effect of committing an offense while on release. On October 3, 2011, Barrie pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, arising from a scheme similar to the one described below in which he defrauded T. Rowe Price and an individual. Barrie remained on release through June 1, 2012, when he reported to the Bureau of Prison. The sentence imposed today is consecutive to the four year sentence imposed in the Eastern District of Virginia.
From January 26 to February 13, 2012, while Barrie was on court supervision and purportedly cooperating with the FBI, Barrie devised a scheme to use the personal identifying information of another individual to fraudulently steal money from the victim’s banking and retirement accounts.
Specifically, in January 2012, Barrie and his associates obtained the victim’s name, date of birth, social security number, mailing address and email address from an individual in New York. The co-conspirator provided Barrie and his associates with numerous “sheets” of potential victims’ identifying information. Barrie and his associates were responsible for researching the victims in order to identify who had money and where that money was held. Once Barrie and his associates found a victim with significant funds, they downloaded the victim’s credit history using the internet. If money was obtained from the victim, each of the participants in the fraud would get a “cut” of the money.
On January 30, 2012, after receiving the identifying information for the victim, Barrie called Fidelity Investments, where the victim maintained a 401(k) retirement account, and posed as the victim. Barrie provided the victim’s personal information and then inquired about the balance of the retirement account. Upon learning that the account had $1,020,160.40, Barrie described the account as a “treasure” and a “paradise.”
During this same call, Barrie, still pretending to be the victim, informed the Fidelity representative that the victim’s account access had been blocked online, and asked for help in resetting the online account access password. The Fidelity representative sent the password reset link to the victim’s legitimate email address, which was the email address associated with the victim’s Fidelity account at the time. Within minutes, Barrie accessed the victim’s email account online.
Approximately 45 minutes later, Barrie created a fraudulent email address, logged onto the victim’s Fidelity account and changed the legitimate email address to the fraudulent one he had created, so that the victim would not receive any email notices from Fidelity regarding withdrawals made to the victim’s account. For the same reason, Barrie also requested the U.S. Postal Service to stop delivery of the victim’s mail.
On February 1, 2012, a co-conspirator opened checking and savings accounts at a JP Morgan Chase Bank branch in New York in the victim’s name using the victim’s personal identifying information. That same day, another associate in Indianapolis, Indiana established an electronic funds transfer link between the victim’s Fidelity retirement account and the fraudulent Chase bank accounts. An unknown associate thereafter requested a transfer of $210,403.61 from the victim’s Fidelity retirement account to one of the Chase bank accounts.
The next day, Barrie or an associate contacted the victim’s place of employment, pretending to be the victim. The caller verified the victim’s full social security number and the last four digits of the victim’s Wells Fargo bank account. The caller purportedly wanted to verify that the victim’s salary was directly deposited to the Wells Fargo account. Barrie thereafter ordered blank checks for three of the victim’s Wells Fargo accounts and had those checks sent to an address in Washington, DC. Three individuals thereafter cashed $26,500 worth of checks drawn on the victim’s Wells Fargo accounts. A fourth individual attempted to cash a $9,500 check, but was not successful. Barrie admitted that he and his associates drew these fraudulent checks in case the electronic transfer did not go through, so that he and his associates would get at least some money from the scheme.
On February 13, 2012, Barrie again called Fidelity posing as the victim, and again stated that online access to his account had been blocked and he needed help resetting his password. Barrie reset the password online. However, the victim had previously contacted Fidelity that day and requested that the electronic transfer be stopped, which Fidelity was able to do.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since the inception of FFETF in November 2009, the Justice Department has filed more than 12,841 financial fraud cases against nearly 18,737 defendants including nearly 3,500 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Secret Service and Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly O'Connell Hayes and Daniel C. Gardner, who prosecuted the case.