SAN FRANCISCO — LAWFUEL – US Law Newswire – United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that Christina Kyeonghee Kim pleaded guilty today to 48 counts of fraud in connection with an identity-theft scheme that caused more than $1 million in losses, which the defendant admitted she spent on luxury items.
Ms. Kim, 43, of McKinleyville, California, pleaded guilty to 47 counts of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, and one count of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. The plea occurred before U.S. District Judge William H. Alsup.
“This crime involved exploiting the Social Security numbers and other very personal information of people who trusted the defendant, including her relatives and college students who worked at her restaurant,” USA Schools said. “Abusing other people’s identities is a very serious offense, as is the defrauding of financial institutions. This Office will prosecute these crimes—and all other white-collar offenses—to the fullest extent of the law.”
As part of her guilty plea, Ms. Kim admitted that beginning in January 2001, she executed a scheme to defraud individuals and financial institutions by creating false identities and opening accounts with financial institutions using personal identifying information of individuals whom she knew. Ms. Kim admitted that she created or otherwise used at least 12 false identities that were created from information she obtained or stole from Korean exchange students attending Humboldt State University, employees that worked in her restaurant, and her family members. Once she obtained the personal information, Ms. Kim used the information to create false drivers licenses, Social Security cards, and other documents.
In total, Ms. Kim admitted that she opened at least 50 separate accounts, including credit card and bank accounts, in the name of real and fictitious individuals by forging signatures on bank and credit card applications, checks, and other documents submitted to obtain lines of credit. Once the financial institutions extended the lines of credit to Ms. Kim, she obtained more than $1.1 million that she never repaid.
Ms. Kim further admitted that she used the money to pay for luxury items and personal expenses. According to the Information filed in the case, Ms. Kim spent the ill-gotten gains on designer clothes, expensive shoes and handbags, jewelry and other personal expenses.
In addition, Ms. Kim admitted to orchestrating a 2003 insurance fraud scheme in which she obtained $90,000 from her insurance company. After an alleged robbery, Ms. Kim submitted numerous false receipts for items allegedly stolen and created a fictitious receipt for a painting, purportedly valued at one million dollars, that she never owned.
Judge William Alsup scheduled the sentencing of Ms. Kim for July 24, 2007 at 2:00 pm in San Francisco. The maximum statutory penalty for each violation of the bank and mail fraud charges is 30 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $1 million, plus restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Prosecuting this case are Stacey Luck, Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Fraud Section, and Assistant United States Attorney Stacey Geis. The prosecution is the result of a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.