Brazilian Man Sentenced To 3 ½ Years In Prison For Defrauding Manhattan Financial Institutions And Aggravated Identity Theft
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that MARCOS ELIAS, a Brazilian citizen and resident, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for participating in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $750,000 at financial institutions headquartered in Manhattan using false representations and the stolen identities of Brazilian account holders at those institutions. U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods imposed today’s sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Using a stolen identity and bogus documents, Marcos Elias conned his friend’s company to transfer more than $750,000 to an account in the name of a fake company that he controlled. Instead of living off of his ill-gotten gains, he will now spend the next three-and-a-half years in prison for his crimes.”
According to the Complaint, Indictment, and statements made in court proceedings:
Since 2012, a Brazilian company (the “Client”) held an account at a financial institution headquartered in Manhattan (the “Firm”). Beginning in June 2014, cooperating witness Evandro Dos Reis Jr. (“Dos Reis”), who was then a Senior Vice President at the Firm, communicated with ELIAS, a longtime friend, regarding the Client’s account. Shortly thereafter, Dos Reis began receiving emails to his Firm email account purportedly from an employee of the Client (the “Client Employee”) instructing Dos Reis to transfer the Client’s money to a bank account in Luxembourg (the “Luxembourg Account”) that appeared to be in the name of the Client. Those emails were sent from an email address that was never used by the Client Employee and contained bogus wire instructions with the forged signature of the Client Employee. On July 15, 2014, as a result of the false documentation provided to Dos Reis which he forwarded to another Firm employee to be executed, the Firm transferred approximately $752,000 from the Client’s account at the Firm to the Luxembourg Account (the “Fraudulent Transfer”), believing it to be a legitimate transfer requested by the Client.
In actuality, the Client did not authorize the Fraudulent Transfer, did not have any bank accounts in Luxembourg, and did not send the emails to Dos Reis requesting the transfer. Rather, it was ELIAS who sent the emails purporting to be from the Client Employee that contained forged wire instructions to Dos Reis. Further, the Luxembourg Account that received the Fraudulent Transfer was beneficially owned by ELIAS and opened in the name of a company formed in Panama at ELIAS’s direction the week prior to the Fraudulent Transfer. The Panama company used by ELIAS to open the Luxembourg Account contained the name of the Client in order to create the false impression that the Client’s funds were being transferred to an account beneficially owned by the Client, when in fact such account was beneficially owned by ELIAS.
In addition to the scheme to defraud the Firm, ELIAS and Dos Reis also attempted to fraudulently obtain money from accounts at a second financial institution headquartered in Manhattan using the identities of the Client Employee and other members of the Client Employee’s family without their authority.
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ELIAS, 47, of São Paulo, Brazil, was extradited from Switzerland, where he was initially arrested, to the Southern District of New York on August 28, 2018. ELIAS previously entered pleas of guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain on February 4, 2019. In addition to the prison sentence, ELIAS was ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $752,384.57 and restitution in the amount of $938,367.87. ELIAS was also sentenced to two years of supervised release.
Dos Reis, a former employee of the Firm, previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud pursuant to a cooperation agreement with the Government in connection with this scheme and is awaiting sentencing.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. Mr. Berman also thanked Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice and the Zurich Police (Kantonspolizei Zürich), and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, for their assistance with the extradition.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Sagar K. Ravi is in charge of the prosecution.