Final Defendant Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud Conspiracy
Baltimore, Maryland – Dorian Maurice Griffin, age 20, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to aggravated identity theft. Four co-defendants have previously pleaded guilty to the scheme, in which the defendants deposited counterfeit checks drawn on the accounts of identity theft victims into bank accounts opened by the defendants in the name of shell companies. The defendants then withdrew the funds before the fraud could be detected.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service - Baltimore Field Office; and Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, between February 2014 and July 2014, Griffin conspired with lead defendant Monika Hill, Mark Peeples, Alysia Rascoe, Christopher McKoy, and others to open 22 business bank accounts online, using the personal identifying information of identity theft victims. The bank accounts were funded using forged checks bearing the bank account numbers and forged signatures of other identity theft victims.
For example, Grant U Pleasure, LLC was registered with the State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation as businesses on March 12, 2014. The business listed an identity theft victim as the managing member/owner, and the defendant used that person’s social security number and date of birth to open online bank accounts for the business. Shortly thereafter, the co-conspirators deposited counterfeit checks into the accounts, and withdrew the funds before the fraudulent checks were detected.
Specifically, beginning on March 25, 2014, 31 counterfeit checks totaling $51,490 were deposited into three business banks accounts opened online in the name of Grant U Pleasure. A total of $52,433 was drawn out of two of those accounts by checks being cashed against funds in the accounts. All of the deposited counterfeit checks were from an account belonging to three identity theft victims. Hill and Peeples deposited a total of seven counterfeit checks into the Grant U Pleasure accounts, each bearing the forged signature of a victim account owner. Once the counterfeit checks were deposited, Hill provided checks to Griffin, Rascoe, Peeples, and others drawn on the Grant U Pleasure accounts. The checks were made out to them in amounts ranging from $1,500 to $1,800, and bore the forged signature of the purported managing member/owner of Grant U Pleasure. Griffin and his co-defendants cashed the checks, providing their driver’s licenses, fingerprints and signatures. They typically kept about $200 of the proceeds for themselves and provided the rest to Hill and others. Between March 26 and April 8, 2014, Griffin cashed 11 checks drawn on the Grant U Pleasure accounts totaling $19,345.
Over the course of the conspiracy, Griffin cashed a total of 30 checks in this same manner, drawn on nine shell corporations with business band accounts. The total amount of checks cashed by Griffin alone was $47,455.
The loss to the bank as a result of the scheme was $179,808.76, the amount actually withdrawn. The intended loss was $233,190.02, the total amount of the counterfeit checks deposited.
Griffin faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and a mandatory minimum of two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed for aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for Griffin on October 21, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.
Lead defendant Monika Michelle Hill, age 36, of Baltimore and Cockeysville, Maryland, pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and to committing these offenses while on pre-trial release in another fraud case. Hill and government have agreed that if the Court accepts her plea agreement, Hill will be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Mark Darnell Peeples, age 31, and Alysia Samon Rascoe, age 26, both of Baltimore pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to aggravated identity theft. Judge Hollander has scheduled sentencing for Peeples on August 23, 2016 and for Rascoe on July 20, 2016, both at 2:30 p.m. Christopher Vance McKoy, age 24, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. McKoy and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts his plea agreement McKoy will be sentenced to between 21 and 27 months in prison. Judge Hollander has scheduled sentencing for McKoy on July 19, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
The Maryland Identity Theft Working Group has been working since 2006 to foster cooperation among local, state, federal, and institutional fraud investigators and to promote effective prosecution of identity theft schemes by both state and federal prosecutors. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Working Group, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to work with financial institutions and businesses to address identity fraud, identify those who compromise personal identity information, and protect citizens from identity theft.
Today’s announcement is part of the efforts undertaken in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established 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 fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Secret Service and Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Judson T. Mihok and Matthew J. Maddox, who are prosecuting the case.