Charlotte Woman Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud For Stealing More Than $458,000 From Victims' Retirement Accounts
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cynthia Williams-Singleton, 41, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer today and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for misusing her access to the retirement accounts of victims, some of whom were elderly, to steal more than $458,722, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Reginald A. DeMatteis, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
According to plea-related documents and today’s court proceedings, from December 2016 to June 2018, Williams-Singleton was a customer service representative with a call center located in Charlotte, for a company identified in court documents as “Company 1.” As a call center representative, Williams-Singleton worked on accounts associated with “Client A,” and had access to Company 1’s data systems that contained, among other things, retirement fund records for Client A’s benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries.
As Williams-Singleton admitted in court today, during the relevant time period, she engaged in a scheme to defraud Client A’s benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries by fraudulently transferring funds from their accounts to bank accounts under her control. During the course of the scheme, Williams-Singleton fraudulently withdrew approximately $458,772.88 in participant and beneficiary funds from approximately eight participant accounts without authorization. Generally, the holders of the participant accounts victimized by Williams-Singleton were persons over the age of 70.
According to court documents, to carry out the scheme, Williams-Singleton used her misused her access to the victims’ personally identifiable information and retirement fund records to make unauthorized changes to beneficiary data and to make unauthorized transfers of funds from Client A’s plan participants’ retirement accounts into bank accounts in her own name or under her control. Williams-Singleton typically accessed a participant’s account when the participant contacted the call center. After speaking with the participant and discovering that the participant was unsure or unaware of his or her account balance, Williams-Singleton informed the participant that the participant’s account was either empty, or had less than it did. She then added herself, her relatives and others, as beneficiaries of that participant’s account. Court records show that Williams-Singleton sometimes added her residential address and personal cell phone numbers as contact information on the account.
During today’s plea hearing, Williams-Singleton admitted that she diverted funds from the participants’ accounts to herself and other newly-added beneficiaries, and that, at times, Williams-Singleton called the call center and impersonated relatives of participants. Williams-Singleton further admitted to falsely reporting the death of the some participants in order to initiate the process of disbursement of funds to the beneficiaries that been fraudulently added.
Williams-Singleton is currently released on bond. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date for the defendant has not been set.
The investigation was handled by the U.S. Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny Sugar, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is in charge of the prosecution.