Two Ghanian Men Sentenced To More Than Two Years In Prison For Bank And Wire Fraud
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact ELIZABETH MORSE
www.justice.gov/usao/md at (410) 209-4885
Baltimore, Maryland – United States District Judge George L. Russell has sentenced Mark Dennis, age 30, of Laurel, to 27 months in prison, and Charles Mensah, age 32, of the Bronx, New York, to 30 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, bank and wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The charges stem from a scheme to defraud in 2014, which attempted to steal nearly $1.4 million in funds from the personal, retirement, and business accounts of various victims. The Court also ordered each man to pay over $229,000 in restitution. Both men are lawful permanent residents of the United States and citizens of Ghana.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations, Baltimore Office; and Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan of the Baltimore County Police.
According to evidence at presented at the 10-day trial, in 2014, co-defendant Mohammed Kwaning acquired account information from the individual victims, as well as forged checks containing bank account information of both individual and corporate victims from across the United States.
Mohammed then recruited individuals, including Dennis and Mensah, who registered corporate shell entities with the state of Maryland. The individuals Mohammed recruited then set up bank accounts at multiple banking institutions in the names of these shell entities. Kwaning then either directed that the funds from the compromised accounts be wired into those bank accounts or provided altered or fabricated checks from compromised accounts to Mohammed, who then provided the checks to Dennis and Mensah, to be deposited into those bank accounts. After doing so, those same individuals would attempt to withdraw as much of the stolen funds before the banks discovered that the source of the funds were compromised accounts.
Some of the accounts were compromised by individuals who called into investment firms pretending to be the actual account holders, and then eventually providing enough correct answers in order to reset the password for the account. Individuals also hacked the emails of victims and, posing as the account holders, requested funds be wired from their retirement accounts to the bank accounts of the shell corporations controlled by the conspirators. The loss attempted over the course of nine months was over $1.3 million; the conspirators were able to withdraw over $229,000 of stolen funds, which they then split amongst themselves.
Kwaning was also found guilty at trial and his sentencing hearing is pending. Badu, Mohammed, Davies, and Fosu had all previously pleaded guilty. Badu was sentenced to 6 months, and the remaining sentencing hearings are pending.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended HSI Baltimore and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and Judson T. Mihok, who prosecuted this case.