Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury today indicted Derrick Elrod, age 35, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in connection with a bank fraud scheme to use stolen, personal identifying information of individuals to open bank accounts and fraudulently obtain cash, merchandise and services.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Wicomico County Sheriff Michael A. Lewis; Acting Special Agent in Charge Sheila Olander of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division.
“Identity theft and bank fraud is often associated with refund fraud schemes, said Sheila Olander,” Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington DC Field Office. “The object of these schemes is to defraud the government, financial institutions and the taxpaying public. IRS Criminal Investigation welcomed the opportunity to lend its financial expertise in this investigation to assist in dismantling this criminal enterprise.”
Elrod worked for Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD), a nonprofit social services organization headquartered in Philadelphia. Elrod was an advisor at a residential program that supports individuals with mental health needs.
According to the five count indictment, from December 2008 through December 22, 2011, Elrod stole the personal identifying information of past or present residents of RHD. He provided the information to co-conspirators Christopher Devine, Quanishia Williamson-Ross, Lenee E. Williamson, Quashonna Williamson, and John Waters. In Maryland, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Elrod and his conspirators allegedly used the stolen information to open accounts at banks, which Elrod’s conspirators then controlled. Elrod’s conspirators allegedly deposited fraudulent checks into the accounts and obtained check cards, then used the associated check cards at ATM machines to make cash withdrawals from the accounts.
The indictment further alleges that Elrod’s conspirators made fraudulent identification documents using the stolen personal information, with photographs of Devine, Williamson-Ross and Lenee Williamson, which they used, along with the check cards, to make purchases at retail stores, later returning the purchased items for cash.
The indictment further alleges that Elrod’s conspirators also used the check cards to obtain services, such as utilities, cable and cell phone service, and make purchases for their personal benefit at restaurants, drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations and video rentals and other businesses. Elrod and his conspirators allegedly would not pay for the services and merchandise, and the banks suffered a loss when the fraudulent checks deposited by the defendants were returned as unpaid.
Elrod faces a maximum sentence of: 30 years in prison for the bank fraud conspiracy; and two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, on each of three counts of aggravated identity theft. No court appearance has been scheduled.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
In related cases, co-conspirators Christopher Andre Devine, age 33; Quanishia Williamson-Ross, age 31; Quashonna Williamson, age 26, and Lenee E. Williamson, age 22, all of Salisbury, Maryland, Frederica, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and John Waters, age 38, of Philadelphia, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the conspiracy. Judge Blake has scheduled sentencing for Devine on March 1, 2013 at 9:30 a.m., and for Quashonna Williamson and Waters on March 29, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., respectively. Williamson-Ross and Lenee Williamson are scheduled to be sentenced on March 5 and March 6, 2013, respectively.
This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked HSI Baltimore, the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, IRS-CI and the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and Kristi N. O’Malley, who are prosecuting the case.