Seven Indicted in Bank Fraud Scheme
Two Defendants Also Charged in Conspiracy to Transport Stolen Vehicles to Africa
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has charged seven individuals for a bank fraud conspiracy in which the defendants allegedly impersonated individual victims to remove funds from the victims’ investment accounts. Two of the defendants are also alleged to have participated in a conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles to Africa. The superseding indictment, which adds six defendants and additional charges, was returned on May 19, 2016, and unsealed today upon the arrest of six defendants. Law enforcement is still seeking the seventh defendant.
The following defendants have been arrested:
Mohammed Kwaning, a/k/a Kofi, age 35, of Laurel, Maryland;
Issah Mohammed, a/k/a Yissa and Ali, age 28, of Laurel;
Sandra Badu, age 30, of Jessup, Maryland;
Francis Osei Fosu, a/k/a Pino, age 27, of Dallas, Texas;
Mark Dennis, age 28, of Beltsville, Maryland; and
Abayomi Davies, age 29, of Silver Spring, Maryland.
The superseding indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Customs and Border Protection Baltimore Port Director Diana Bowman; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to the 14 count superseding indictment, the defendants stole money from the accounts of individual victims by: obtaining the email addresses of victims, then purporting to be the victims, sending emails to investment account managers requesting that funds be wired into a business account controlled by Kwaning and Mohammed; and by obtaining victims’ account information at various investment account firms and taking over the online accounts of the victims. According to the superseding indictment, Mohammed and Kwaning also created fraudulent checks and cashier’s checks drawn on the victims’ accounts, which Davies, Dennis, Badu and others deposited into accounts they controlled. The defendants then withdrew or transferred the funds from the business account they maintained to receive the victims’ funds to other accounts controlled by the conspirators before the bank discovered the fraud.
Further, the superseding indictment alleges that from at least January 31, 2013, through May 12, 2014, Kwaning and Mohammed were part of a conspiracy to have vehicles stolen in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., then transported to Africa for sale. Specifically, the indictment alleges that after causing the vehicles to be stolen, the conspirators would transfer possession of the vehicles to Kwaning, Mohammed and others. The conspirators used business bank accounts opened by Kwaning and Mohammed for paperwork associated with the stolen vehicles, such as the title, registration, shipping, bill of sale and insurance. They caused the stolen vehicles to be loaded into a shipping container and delivered to the Ports of Baltimore and Newark, New Jersey, where they were shipped to destinations including Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana.
According to the indictment, the proceeds from the bank and wire fraud conspiracy were pooled with the funds used and generated from the purchase and sale of the stolen vehicles.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the bank and wire fraud conspiracy, and for each count of bank and wire fraud in which they are charged. Kwaning and Mohammed also face a maximum of five in prison for conspiracy to transport stolen motor vehicles, and a maximum of 10 years in prison for each of four counts of receipt and possession of stolen motor vehicles. Finally, Kwaning also faces a mandatory minimum of two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed for aggravated identity theft. The defendants had an initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Kwaning, Mohammed and Davies are detained and Badu and Dennis were released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services. Kwaning and Davies have detention hearings scheduled for May 27 and May 31, 2016, respectively. Fosu had his initial appearance in Texas and was detained pending a detention hearing.
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.
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 HSI Baltimore, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Baltimore County and Prince George’s County Police Departments for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok and Zachary A. Myers, who are prosecuting the case.