Serial Fraudster Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison
Perpetrated Bank Fraud Scheme While on Pre-trial Release for a Separate Wire Fraud Scheme
Baltimore, Maryland –. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced Monika Michelle Hill, age 36, of Baltimore and Cockeysville, Maryland, to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for two separate fraud schemes, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Judge Hollander also ordered Hill to pay restitution of $199,318 for the 2015 bank fraud case, and restitution of $105,899.16 in the 2013 wire fraud case.
The sentence 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 her plea agreement, between March 2013 and July 2014, Hill, was the leader of a 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. Hill conspired with co-defendants Alysia Rascoe, Vance McKoy, Mark Peeples, Dorian Griffin 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 and Kersey’s Recovery, LLC were registered with the State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation as businesses on March 12, 2014 and May 19, 2014, respectively. The businesses each listed an identity theft victim as the managing member/owner, and used that person’s social security number and date of birth to open online bank accounts for the business. The bank accounts listed the identity theft victim as the sole authorized signer on the account.
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 those accounts by checks being cashed against funds in the accounts. All of the deposited counterfeit checks were from an account belonging to identity theft victims. Hill deposited three of the counterfeit checks and Peeples deposited four counterfeit checks into the Grant U Pleasure bank 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 from 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, Rascoe and Peeples 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.
Similarly, between June 3 and 5, 2014, eight counterfeit checks totaling $13,810 were deposited into the Kersey’s Recovery bank accounts. Hill deposited four counterfeit checks, including on June 4, 2014, immediately after entering her guilty plea in a separate federal fraud case, and while she was on pretrial release. Hill then provided McKoy and others checks from the Kersey’s Recovery accounts that were made out to them in amounts ranging from $1,200 to $1,400, and bore the forged signature of the purported managing member/owner of Kersey’s Recovery. After cashing the checks, McKoy and others received between $150 and $400, and provided the balance to Hill.
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.
Mark Darnell Peeples, age 31, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to aggravated identity theft; Alysia Samon Rascoe, age 26, of Baltimore pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to aggravated identity theft; Christopher Vance McKoy, age 24, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud; and Dorian Maurice Griffin, age 20, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for McKoy on July 19, 2016 at 10:00 a.m., for Rascoe on July 20, 2016, for Peeples on August 23, 2016, both at 2:30 p.m., and for Griffin on October 21, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.
In the prior case, Hill conspired with Tavares Davon Miller, age 32, of Baltimore. According to her plea agreement in that case, from September 25 through November 1, 2012, Miller acquired the identifying information of more than 10 victims, and used that information to fabricate driver’s licenses and credit cards in the names of those victims, but using the photograph of co-conspirator Monika Hill (where applicable). Miller and Hill traveled to motorcycle dealerships and retail stores in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and used the fraudulent identification documents to purchase motorcycles and other merchandise, or apply for lines of credit at those stores. Miller and Hill then loaded the motorcycles and merchandise into their vehicle and returned to Maryland. Miller advertised the motorcycles and merchandise for sale over the internet, retaining the proceeds of the sales and paid Hill a fee for her services. Miller was previously sentenced to 75 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of 105,899.66.
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. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who prosecuted both cases.