Two Individuals Indicted For Bank Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft
Defendants are facing a forfeiture allegation of $133,025
SAN JUAN, P.R. - On June 20, 2017, a federal Grand Jury returned a 35-count indictment charging José Andrés Colón-Santos and Erika Yazmin Rosado-Matías with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, sixteen substantive counts of bank fraud, twelve counts of aggravated identity theft, and three counts of mail fraud. The indictment also includes two charges against Colón-Santos for extortion and one charge for tampering with a witness by intimidation, threats, corrupt persuasion, or misleading conduct. The United States Postal Inspection Service is in charge of the investigation.
According to the indictment, the purpose of the conspiracy was for the defendants to unlawfully enrich themselves by obtaining bank account information and personal identifying information (social security number, date of birth, address as well as credit/debit card and PIN numbers), and using that information to withdraw funds from the victims’ accounts for their own benefit and use. The ages of the victims range from 69 to 83 years old.
The indictment alleges that José Andrés Colón-Santos would obtain the names and telephone numbers of his victims from the telephone book. He identified himself as a bank fraud investigator and would then indicate to the victims that he was conducting an investigation into a suspected illegal purchase conducted at a local hardware store in excess of $1,500.00 using the victim’s bank account and bank account access devices. He would then request that the victim confirm the victim’s bank account number and personal identification information alleging that he needed that information to reverse or invalidate the suspect illegal transaction at the hardware store.
In several instances, Colón-Santos would then contact the bank to request a change of address in the victim’s account and that replacement cards be mailed to addresses controlled by him or his associates. Once Colón-Santos had received the replacement cards he would make ATM withdrawals, wire transfers, credit card payments, purchases and other transactions against the victims’ accounts. Whenever the bank account owner was a female, defendant Rosado-Matías would impersonate the bank account owner to request the change of address and replacement cards.
In other instances, Colón-Santos would instruct the victim to mail the alleged compromised credit and debit cards to addresses controlled by him or his associates, or to hand-deliver the cards to a messenger sent to the victim’s residence to pick up the card.
“Law enforcement will not stand by as criminals attempt to fleece a very vulnerable group of our community, our elders. These criminals are disrupting their lives by stealing their savings and destroying their credit through calculated and pervasive fraud schemes,” stated U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “I urge everyone to take steps to protect their personally identifiable information (PII) from criminals who seek illicit profits through stolen identity fraud.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has always being a strong defender of our most vulnerable citizens. We put a lot effort into fraud prevention measures; and when these criminals take advantage of our people, we work tirelessly to uncover them and bring them to justice, stated Raimundo Marrero, Postal Inspector Team Leader, Newark Division, San Juan Field Office.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum possible sentence of incarceration of 30 years for bank fraud, and a consecutive two-year mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated identity theft. If convicted, Colón-Santos faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years each for both the extortion and tampering with a witness charges.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service with the assistance of Puerto Rico Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by AUSA Dennise N. Longo-Quiñones.
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