Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and William T. Sims, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, announce the indictment of nineteen people in a vast, complex check fraud ring in South Florida that has been operating for more than five years and that has resulted in at least $1.2 million in losses.
The nineteen defendants are charged in the 95-count indictment with conspiring to pass fictitious securities, that is, counterfeit corporate checks and personal checks, and conspiring to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. These charges carry a maximum of five years’ imprisonment. In addition to the conspiracy charges, the defendants face substantive charges for passing fictitious securities, wire fraud, and social security fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 514(a)(2) and 1343, and Title 42, United States Code, Section 408(a)(7)(B). If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment for passing fictitious securities, 30 years’ imprisonment for wire fraud, and 5 years’ imprisonment for the social security fraud.
As the indictment reflects, the conspiracy involved the defendants obtaining valid Florida identification cards from the State of Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles by presenting various counterfeit documents, including birth certificates, W-2 Forms, and various forms from the Social Security Administration. Then, the co-conspirators would produce counterfeit personal and corporate checks and negotiate those fraudulent checks at different merchants in the Southern District of Florida, such as Best Buy, Comp USA, Circuit City, and Office Depot, in exchange for things of value. In some instances, the co-conspirators would then re-sell the fraudulently-obtained merchandise on eBay – an Internet-based auction and trading site located in California — and would often receive payment for sales of the fraudulently-obtained merchandise on eBay through PayPal – an Internet-based online payment service located in California.