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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 20, 2021

Four Defendants Charged In Coast-To-Coast Bank Fraud Conspiracy

Defendants Deposited Nearly $1 Million In Fraudulent Checks Between New York and California

Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Patrick J. Freaney, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service (“USSS”), Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service’s New York Division (“USPIS”), and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the indictment of DRAMION COOMBS, OLUFEMI NATHANIEL ITIOWE, TANZANIA HOGAN, and DEIBI SANCHEZ for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme to order bank checks in the names of multiple victims and then fraudulently deposit those checks drawn from the victims’ accounts into accounts that the defendants controlled.  All four defendants were arrested pursuant to a complaint and presented before United States Magistrate Judges on April 20, 2021.  ITIOWE and SANCHEZ were arrested in New York, COOMBS was arrested in Pennsylvania, and HOGAN, was arrested in California. 

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Dramion Coombs, Olufemi Nathaniel Itiowe, Tanzania Hogan, and Deibi Sanchez conspired to defraud multiple banks of nearly $1 million by obtaining the identities of other people and cashing fraudulent checks from their bank accounts.  Thanks to the terrific investigative work of our law enforcement partners, these defendants are now facing prosecution for their alleged crimes.” 

Deputy Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Freaney said:  “The U.S. Secret Service, alongside our valued partners from the New York City Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, continue to prioritize financial fraud investigations.  In this instance, the accused allegedly utilized social engineering techniques to gain access to numerous bank accounts to make fraudulent deposits totaling nearly $1 million. This case illustrates the perils of social engineering and highlights the importance of authentication practices and procedures to better secure financial and personal information.”

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said:  “These defendants allegedly orchestrated a nationwide cyber scheme to stalk victims and steal their money. But the United States Secret Service and the United States Postal Service, together with our NYPD detectives and the prosecutors of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, meticulously tracked their digital moves to piece together this important case and ensure justice will be served.”

Inspector-In-Charge Bartlett said:  “These individuals engaged in an old school low tech check/bank fraud scam. While their scheme was unsophisticated, they managed to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from financial institutions. Their crimes would have continued had it not been for the collaborative efforts of law enforcement.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment[1] unsealed today: 

Between at least September 2018 and November 2018, COOMBS, ITIOWE, HOGAN, and SANCHEZ executed schemes to defraud financial institutions of more than $890,000.    They did so by depositing false and fraudulent checks drawn from the accounts of at least three different New York victims into banks located in New York and California.  In addition, between at least December 2019 and July 2020, COOMBS deposited multiple additional false and fraudulent checks into his own bank account and deposited checks into a separate bank account that he opened in the name of another individual.

COOMBS, 37, of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, two counts of bank fraud, which each carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and two counts of aggravated identity theft, which each carry mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

ITIOWE, 47, of Brooklyn, New York, HOGAN, 47, of Canoga Park, California, and SANCHEZ, 48, of Bronx, New York, are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the United States Secret Service, New York City Police Department, and United States Postal Inspection Service for their outstanding investigative work. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Brandon D. Harper is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Contact: 
James Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
21-120
Updated May 26, 2021