Apollo E. Nida Sentenced For Conspiring To Commit Mail, Wire And Bank Fraud
Nida Used Fake Collection Agencies And Databases To Target Identity Theft Victims
ATLANTA - Apollo E. Nida, 35, of Atlanta, Ga., was sentenced today for conspiring to commit mail, wire and bank fraud in a complex fraud scheme which spanned over four years and harmed over 50 victims.
“Identity theft continues to be a focus for my office as thieves continue to refine devious schemes to exploit our citizens,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “This defendant organized two separate fake collection agencies, used them to harvest data from databases like Equifax and LexisNexis, and then deployed that data in identity theft attacks tailored to the vulnerabilities and characteristics of each victim.”
“Today’s sentencing exemplifies impartial justice regardless of economic class or perceived celebrity status. Nida’s sentence should be an eye opener for other like-minded criminals who scheme to steal victims’ identities, defraud them and ignore the consequences of their actions,” said Reginald G. Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Beginning in August 2009, Nida, 35, of Atlanta, Ga., and others obtained stolen checks by stealing them or buying them from other criminal associates. The stolen checks involved in the scheme included United States Treasury Checks, as well as checks stolen from the pension fund of Delta Airlines. Additionally, the conspirators obtained funds by filing fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and making fraudulent claims against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and at least eleven states, all in the names of victims whose identities had been stolen.
Many of these checks were mailed to a large network of mailboxes rented by the conspirators at UPS Stores in the Northern District of Georgia and throughout the nation, for eventual forwarding to the conspirators. The conspirators also obtained fraudulent auto loans secured by vehicles that they had no ownership interest in whatsoever. To convince banks to issue these loans, Nida and his conspirators created fake documents and websites appearing to belong to legitimate auto dealerships.
Once the conspirators obtained the stolen checks, they laundered them through numerous victim financial institutions. Often, the conspirators laundered the checks by opening bank accounts in the names of the payees listed on the face of the checks. This involved impersonating each payee and stealing his or her identity. The conspirators prepared for these impersonations by researching their victims using databases like LexisNexis and Equifax, to which they obtained access through fake collection agencies they had opened as part of the scheme. Sometimes, the conspirators negotiated checks by laundering them in bulk through accounts which appeared to belong to legitimate businesses, such as one in the name “Signature Tax Collections.”
The illegal conduct ended only when agents of the U.S. Secret Service confronted Nida and seized his laptop computer, pursuant to a search warrant, on September 13, 2013.
Nida has been sentenced to 8 years in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. U.S. District Court Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. also ordered Nida to pay restitution to the victims of his offenses, and scheduled a separate hearing to take place on July 17, 2014, to calculate the restitution amount. Nida was convicted on May 6, 2014, when he pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection.
Assistant United States Attorney Alana R. Black prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.