Seven Area Men Arrested After Being Charged in a 16 Count Indictment Alleging Mail Theft, Mail Fraud, and Conspiracy
CLEVELAND – U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman announced today that seven individuals were charged for using stolen identities of United States citizens from Puerto Rico and falsified identification documents to fraudulently purchase and finance vehicles and watercrafts from dealerships in Northern Ohio. The charges were made public in a forty-count indictment unsealed today in a federal court in the Northern District of Ohio.
In a coordinated effort, the District of New Jersey, the State of New Jersey and the District of Massachusetts also charged defendants in this scheme.
“These defendants allegedly attempted to profit off of the stolen identities of U.S. citizens by purchasing various motor vehicles and watercrafts at Ohio dealerships and then, in some cases, proceeded to ship the vehicles out of the state and country,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Thanks to tireless work of law enforcement across the country, this identify theft ring has been disrupted, and these defendants can no longer use the funds of hard-working citizens to enrich themselves.”
“Concluding a nearly three-year investigation, Sandusky Bay Border Patrol Agents worked hand-in-hand with the AUSA, FBI, HSI, and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to bring an interstate crime ring to an end,” said Douglas Harrison, Chief Patrol Agent, U.S. Border Patrol Detroit Sector. “In all, seven suspects were charged in Ohio after defrauding banks using stolen identities and selling bank owned assets across state lines in New Jersey. I am extremely proud of the work our agents do every day, especially when it culminates in a successful operation after years of effort.”
"These defendants victimized individuals and financial institutions with their selfish greed,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “Victims had their identities stolen and used for lavish purchases. The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure fraudsters, no matter where they reside, are held accountable."
Charged today on counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, misuse of a social security number and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles are:
The following defendants remain at large:
According to court documents, from January 2017 to July of 2019, the defendants are accused of orchestrating a scheme to obtain genuine Ohio Driver licenses from the Ohio BMV using stolen identification documents from real U.S. citizens and phony driver’s licenses from Puerto Rico.
The indictment states that the defendants then obtained fraudulent credit cards and bank accounts using the stolen identity documents. These defendants then allegedly visited Northern Ohio motor vehicle dealerships to purchase late-model vehicles and jet skis using 100% financed loans. In support of their loan applications, the defendants are accused of providing the biographical information of real United States citizens, as well as fraudulent Puerto Rico driver’s licenses and social security cards as proof of identification. After the group purchased these vehicles, many were transported to New Jersey and some were exported out of the country.
In total, law enforcement identified over 70 vehicles and watercraft in all states from all defendants with an estimated total value of $3,750,268.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offenses and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations’ Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, the Cleveland Division of the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Elyria Police Department and Akron Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brad J. Beeson and Jason W. White.