Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment late yesterday charging Scerena Simpson Genus, age 35, and Doreen Spence, age 50, both of Baltimore, in connection with a scheme to steal social security benefits. The superseding indictment adds a conspiracy count to the original indictment, returned on October 11, 2012.
The superseding indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Michael Ryan of the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Criminal Investigations; and Brian Crane, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, U.S. Department of the Treasury - Office of Inspector General.
According to the seven count superseding indictment, from August 2011 to February 2012, co-conspirators in Jamaica called social security beneficiaries (the victims) and informed them that they had won the Jamaican National Lottery. The co-conspirators elicited personal identifying information from the victims, including their names, addresses, social security numbers and dates of birth, by promising to wire lottery winnings to the victims once they provided their personal information. The Jamaican co-conspirators allegedly used the victims’ personal information to apply for Direct Express debit cards in the names of the victims and requested that the victims’ monthly social security benefits be loaded onto the debit cards. The Jamaican co-conspirators provided a mailing address for the cards on Finney Avenue in Baltimore.
The indictment alleges that Spence and Genus received the debit cards at the Finney Avenue house and used the cards to make purchases and cash withdrawals at ATM’s in Maryland. Immediately after Spence had made cash withdrawals from the victims’ debit cards, she allegedly wired funds to the Jamaican co-conspirators. The Jamaican co-conspirators instructed one or more of the victims to wire funds directly to Spence, who then rewired a portion of those funds to the Jamaican co-conspirators.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for conspiring to commit wire fraud; 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for access device fraud; and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence on each of five counts of aggravated identity theft. Initial appearances have been scheduled on January 18, 2013 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Both defendants are released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.
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 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. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Social Security Administration - OIG and Department of the Treasury - OIG for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Nitze and Assistant U.S. Attorney P. Michael Cunningham, who are prosecuting the case.