Ringleader In Multimillion-Dollar Bank Fraud Scheme Found Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court
Sixteenth Defendant Convicted For Participation In Conspiracy
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MAHABUBUZ ZAMAN, a/k/a “Mahabub Zaman,” a/k/a “Faisal Ahmed,” was found guilty yesterday of participating in an elaborate bank fraud scheme which yielded millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. Following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan, the jury found ZAMAN, one of the leaders of the scheme, guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identification document fraud, and use of a false passport. As part of the scheme, ZAMAN and his co-conspirators used fake companies, phony identification documents and hundreds of counterfeit checks to withdraw millions of dollars in stolen funds from more than a dozen banks.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “With the jury’s swift verdict, a 16th defendant, Mahabubuz Zaman, now stands convicted for his role in this multimillion-dollar bank fraud scheme. And we’re all the more close to bringing this case to a just and fitting conclusion, where each and every perpetrator of this fraud is made to answer for his or her crimes.”
According to the Superseding Indictment filed October 7, 2014, other court documents, and the evidence presented at trial:
From approximately 2008 through November 2012, ZAMAN and his co-conspirators engaged in a bank fraud scheme in which they created hundreds of counterfeit checks, deposited those counterfeit checks into bank accounts they had opened in the names of sham companies in order to fraudulently inflate the balances in those accounts, and then withdrew funds from those bank accounts before the financial institutions were able to determine the fraudulent nature of the checks. In addition to the check fraud, the defendant and his co-conspirators also obtained fraudulent mortgages and ran up credit card debt using false identities. The scheme victimized approximately 15 different banks, resulting in millions of dollars in losses to the banks.
As part of the scheme, the conspirators incorporated sham companies and then opened bank accounts in the names of those sham companies. The individuals opening the accounts (the “accountholders”) often used false identities, including names and social security numbers, and presented false identification documents, including false Bangladeshi passports and forged United States visas. The accountholders were generally instructed to make small legitimate deposits at first, so that the banks would make funds immediately available upon future fraudulent deposits.
The defendant and his co-conspirators obtained copies of legitimate checks and then used the payor account information that appeared on those checks to create counterfeit checks made payable to the sham companies they had incorporated as part of the scheme. The accountholders deposited the counterfeit checks into the sham company bank accounts at various banks. The accountholders often made deposits at numerous branches of the same bank on the same day. These deposits often were made on a Thursday or Friday so that the defendant and his co-conspirators could withdraw the illegal proceeds over the weekend when the banks were closed and were less likely to determine that the checks were counterfeit.
Once the defendant and his co-conspirators confirmed that funds from the counterfeit checks were available for withdrawal, the accountholders were directed to withdraw the funds from the counterfeit checks, typically over the weekend. The defendant and his co-conspirators often withdrew the funds from global cash access machines at casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which did not have daily withdrawal limits. The accountholders often used false identification documents, including false Bangladeshi passports and fake United States visas, when making the withdrawals.
ZAMAN was one of the leaders of the scheme. Among other things, he recruited accountholders, directed both accountholders and higher-ranking members of the crew in the scheme’s operations, and collected a large share of the illicit profits. In addition, ZAMAN was primarily responsible for the crew’s fraudulent mortgage operations.
ZAMAN, 42, of Queens, New York, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for conspiring to commit bank fraud, 15 years in prison for conspiring to commit identification document fraud, and 10 years in prison for using a false passport. 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. ZAMAN is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Nathan on February 27, 2015.
In addition to the verdict yesterday, 15 of ZAMAN’s co-conspirators have previously pled guilty in connection with the bank fraud and fraudulent identity document conspiracy. A chart listing the date of conviction and charges of conviction for each of the 16 convicted defendants is attached. Four charged co-conspirators – Hamid Khan, Akther Rahman, Abdur Razzak, and Khairul Islam – are still at large.
U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the investigative work of ICE HSI. He also thanked United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Queens County District Attorney’s office, the New Jersey State Police, the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, the United States Secret Service, and the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission for their assistance in the matter.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Lisa Korologos and Alexander Wilson are in charge of the prosecution.