Fourteen people have been charged with scheming to defraud banks and individuals with counterfeit economic stimulus checks purportedly issued by the Treasury Department pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced on October 23, 2020.
Charged by complaint with conspiracy to commit bank fraud are:
Defendant Age Residence Justin Ezeiruaku 23 Berlin, New Jersey Torri Pedro 24 Sicklerville, New Jersey *Akume Ehoggi 25 Glassboro, New Jersey Kassan Knight 23 Newark Nakirah Matthews 21 Paulsboro, New Jersey *Qwan Taylor 22 Pennsauken, New Jersey *Kwaeson Watts 24 Lindenwold, New Jersey *Nasir Johnson 23 Newark *Daeson Monroe 25 Philadelphia Daron Curry 24 Westville, New Jersey Talib Crump 26 Philadelphia *Noah Brent-Magri 21 Somerset, New Jersey Isaiah White 23 Virginia Beach, Virginia Ali Shoultz 23 Clementon, New Jersey
Knight, Pedro, Shoultz, Matthews and Curry made their initial appearances Oct. 22, 2020, by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio.
Ezeiruako will make his appearance on Oct. 26, 2020.
Crump is in custody in Philadelphia.
White was arrested in Virginia and will have an initial appearance at a date to be determined.
According to documents filed in this case:
U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) postal inspectors and special agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), uncovered a nationwide scheme involving counterfeit economic stimulus checks deposited into bank accounts with the intent to defraud the banks.
A network of individuals posted advertisements on Instagram and Snapchat offering people the ability to make “quick cash” if they banked at certain institutions.
Some members of the conspiracy acquired individuals’ banking information using a ruse, while others printed the counterfeit stimulus checks that they deposited into the accounts.
Members of the conspiracy used ATM machines, and peer-to-peer bank transfers, as well as debit cards, to make large purchases and large cash withdrawals.
Individuals allegedly financed purchases of luxury cars and also allegedly paid for their apartments with the stolen funds.
In many cases, the individuals whose accounts were compromised suffered financial losses and credit problems, while others were complicit in the fraud.
The count of bank fraud conspiracy is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited inspectors with the USPIS Philadelphia Division, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Damon Woods, and Eastern Area, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Kenneth Cleevely; special agents of HSI, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark; special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark; the U.S. Marshals Service, District of New Jersey, under the direction of U.S. Marshal Juan Mattos; the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Attorney General Josh Shapiro; the Glassboro Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Polillo; the Winslow Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief George M. Smith; the Gloucester Township Police Department, Special Investigations Unit, under the direction of Chief David J. Harkins; the Pennsauken Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jon Nettleton; the Paulsboro Police Department, under the direction of Chief Gary Kille; the Lindenwold Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael McCarthy; the West Whiteland Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Lee Benson; the Pennsylvania State Police, under the direction of Capt. James Kemm; the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Gaming Enforcement, under the direction of Lt. Kevin Conrad; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alisa Shver of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.