CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. sentenced a South Carolina man late yesterday to 24 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, in connection with a “synthetic identity” bank fraud scheme, announced R. Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Conrad also ordered Charles Whitlock, Jr., 51, of Rock Hill, S.C. to pay $310,268.51 in restitution. Whitlock pleaded guilty to bank fraud in October, 2017.
David M. McGinnis, Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and court hearings, Whitlock executed a synthetic identity fraud scheme from December 2013 to April 2017, through which he fraudulently obtained more than $251,000 from a financial institution by obtaining credit cards using synthetic identities. A synthetic identity is a fictitious identity created using a combination of real and fabricated information about people, or sometimes entirely fictitious information about people, including names, social security numbers (SSN), dates of birth (DOB).
Whitlock also used social media to offer so-called “credit repair services,” claiming he could help customers acquire new lines of credit, car loans and better FICO scores, among other things. Whitlock omitted to disclose that he was engaging in fraudulent activity involving synthetic identities.
In July 2017, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (USGAO) issued a summary report of a forum convened by the Comptroller General of the United States on the topic of synthetic identity fraud (SIF). A panel of experts concluded that SIF is a growing problem that poses a threat to “the financial system, government programs and national security.” The USGAO’s full report is available at https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/686134.pdf
The investigation was led by USPIS and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas O’Malley and Ben Bain-Creed, of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.