Tampa Man Pleads Guilty For Role In “Ghost” Employee And Credit Line Scams
Tampa, Florida – Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announces that Rany Smith (48, Tampa), a/k/a “Abdelmajid Wahbi,” has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum penalty of 22 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. As part of his plea agreement, Smith is required to pay restitution to his victims and forfeit at least $93,586.65 in ill-gotten gains traceable to the offenses.
According to the plea agreement, Smith, originally from Morocco, stole the identities of other immigrants and used them to carry out a variety of fraud schemes throughout Florida. In 2016, Smith was convicted of public benefits fraud in federal court (Boston, MA) and was sentenced to probation. He then moved to Tampa and obtained employment as a manager of a local franchise using the name of another North African immigrant to hide his felony record. As a manager of the franchise, Smith put several fictitious employees on the business’s payroll and collected their wages for months.
Smith pursued a similar scheme in south Florida where he was hired as a manager of a business in Delray Beach, again using a stolen identity to hide his criminal past. He then hired multiple co-conspirators who, while real employees, fraudulently received extra wages due to Smith regularly inflating their hours in the business’s time clock management system.
In separate scheme, Smith used a variety of other identities stolen from North African immigrants to take out lines of credit from various Florida retailers and online merchants. He then financed tens of thousands of dollars in purchases from these vendors and had the merchandise shipped to his Tampa address and to those of his co-conspirators. Smith never repaid any of these debts.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations’ National Security Division, the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eric K. Gerard.