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Press Release

Columbus Resident Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

COLUMBUS, Ga. – A Columbus resident pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft resulting from an investigation that originated with citizen complaints about a suspected driver’s license renewal scheme.

Amanah Childs, 43, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft before U.S. District Judge Clay Land on June 13. Childs faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for wire fraud and a maximum of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. Childs also faces a maximum of three years of supervised release and a maximum $250,000 fine for each count. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 29. There is no parole in the federal system.

“The defendant attempted to defraud taxpayers and used unsuspecting citizen’s personal information to commit these crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “This case is a good reminder to all of us to carefully protect our personal identifying information and report suspected fraud to the authorities. Working with our law enforcement partners, our office will hold fraudsters accountable.”

“This is a great example of law enforcement partners working together to investigate and identify a fraudster illegally obtaining funds for her own personal gain,” said Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). “Postal Inspectors will not cease in their ongoing efforts to protect the nation’s mail system from criminal misuse.”

“IRS-CI special agents and our federal and local law enforcement partners worked together to stop Childs from her attempts to defraud taxpayers and the federal government,” said Lisa Fontanette, acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “Child’s guilty plea serves as a warning to individuals contemplating committing fraud that they better find a legal means to make a living, or they will face the same consequences.”

“When the Columbus Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit began this investigation, we already had 100 victims throughout the country, including Columbus, Georgia. Two search warrants of Childs’ residence, numerous arrest warrants and several court appearances later, we are getting to see justice achieved. This would not be possible without our amazing partners at the IRS and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service who see the importance of fraud and financial investigations, especially the horrific impact it has on our citizens, society and economy. This also sends a strong message to people who commit these types of crimes that they, too, could face similar punishment,” said Sgt. Jane Edenfield with the Columbus Police Department.

According to court documents, the Columbus Police Department began receiving complaints from people in the community and other states in 2021 about an unknown person using a Columbus, Georgia, address to apply for driver’s license renewals and replacements in their names. Law enforcement suspected this was an attempt to fraudulently apply for credit cards. A subsequent investigation revealed that Childs lived at the address and a search warrant was executed at the residence; investigators found driver’s license replacement and renewal paperwork, credit cards and mail in other people’s names. In addition, evidence revealed that Childs was applying for federal loans in other people’s names without their knowledge or authorization. Law enforcement identified 20 instances where Childs fraudulently applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). All the applications, except one, were rejected by the program for suspected fraud. Fourteen fraudulent applications were submitted in the names of other people, using their means of identification and personal identifying information in the online application. Childs also submitted six fraudulent applications in her own name claiming nonexistent businesses with spurious gross revenues, costs of goods sold and other false information. The total intended loss was $1,006,600; the actual loss was $10,000. Childs used the name of a victim to get an advance on an EIDL loan for $10,000.

The case was investigated by the Columbus Police Department, IRS and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals is prosecuting the case for the Government.

Updated June 15, 2023

Identity Theft