Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chicago Feds Dismantled Counterfeit Check Operation

Twelve suspects have been indicted on federal bank fraud charges for making counterfeit checks to obtain $700K in cash and aggravated identity theft.

By H. Nelson Goodson
January 8, 2013

Chicago, IL - The U.S. Attorney's Northern District Office in Chicago announced that 12 suspects have been indicted for federal bank fraud charges for making more than $1 million dollars worth of counterfeit personal and corporate checks to actually obtain more than $700K in cash from multiple Chicago area banks. The checks were cashed at 
branches of the American Chartered Bank, Chase Bank, Citibank, Fifth Third Bank, First Midwest Bank, BMO Harris Bank, and U.S. Bank. The suspects than allegedly split the cash among them. 
Five of the suspects were also charged for aggregated identity theft.
The counterfeit checking ring printed hundreds of bogus checks between August of 2010 to December 2012 totalling more than $1M and sent runners with false identities to cash checks averaging $2,500 each and then sharing the proceeds, according to Gary S. Shapiro, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Frank Benetto, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Secret Service.
The suspects were able to get copies of authentic checks from Latrese Leshore, 30, of Chicago who worked and processed health insurance applications and payments by customers where she stole authentic checks by copying the checks and getting access to customers bank account information. Leshore then sold the check copies and bank financial information from customers to another suspect knowing it would be used for steal money from bank accounts.
Then Kenneth Pearson, 39, of Chicago, David Kotlicky, 23, of Downers Grove, and Eric Jackson, 24, of Chicago used the information to make copies of counterfeit checks and get access to victims bank accounts inorder to monitor and maintain accounts to avoid fraud detection.
Others indicted were, Antione Mahone, 24; Stacey Sanders, 38; Deangria Wells, 27; Roger Elam, 48; Rosie Elam, 59; Lynada Mahone, 34; Tovise Stone, 34; and Starlinda Stubbs, 21, all of Chicago.
A federal warrant for the arrest of Jackson was issued, who remained at large. Antione Mahone was released on bond and Kotlicky is being held without bond.
All 12 suspects face at least one or more counts of bank fraud. In addition, Pearson, Kotlicky, Jackson, Sanders, and Leshore were each charged with one count of aggravated identity theft, and Kotlicky alone was charged with one count of passing $80 in counterfeit currency. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of approximately $1 million from Pearson and Kotlicky.
Each count of bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, and passing counterfeit currency carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

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