MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Federal prosecutors have charged 14 South Florida with a scheme which proves you don’t need a gun and a mask to rob a bank. They claim the people arrested in this scheme used computers, personal information, and bank transfers to suck money from victims to criminals at the speed of electrons.
The US attorney for the Southern District of Florida and the Miami FBI field office announced the scheme Thursday. US Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said the key was access to bank accounts through the online system of various banks by 24 year old Ibrahin Elias of Hialeah.
The feds said he impersonated bank customers using stolen personal information including names, birthdates, and social security numbers. Investigators said that was enough to let him gain access to their bank accounts through the online portals of their bank, and once the bank was convinced he was the customer, allow him to take over the account.
“Once Elias had control of an account, Elias transferred funds to accomplices, who made their own accounts available to receive the stolen money,” Ferrer said in a statement.
As if transferring the funds electronically was not enough, prosecutors claim Elias also ordered checks for the stolen accounts so people to access money without making an electronic transaction.
Elias, the apparent mastermind of the scheme, was charged with Elias is charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud 16 counts of substantive bank fraud,three counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count for destruction of evidence.
Prosecutors said he extended the scheme by paying others and asking them to being other people in. The indictment alleges that defendants Dalbert Hernandez, 22, of Miami and Victor Batista, 22, of Hialeah received stolen funds and recruited others to participate in the scheme. Hernandez and Batista are both charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud and Batista is charged with four substantive bank fraud counts.
Defendants Roger Lores, 23, of Hialeah, Aniuta Castro-Ruiz, 53, of Hialeah, Dayan Galarraga, 40, of Hialeah, Yanelis Curbera, 34, of Hialeah, and Dalmis Gonzalez, 30, of Hialeah received stolen funds by means of electronic online transfers, and charged a fee for this service, and they were charged with carious bank fraud counts.
6 more defendants, Yoleisy Legarde, 29, of Miami, Howard Mitchell, 27, of Miami, Yovani Gonzalez, 26, of Miami, Idalma Chaskel Kessel, 45, of Hialeah, Maribel Perez, 23, of Hialeah, and Edisbel Rodriguez, 36, of Miami are alleged to have cashed stolen checks obtained through Elias’ online fraud. They are charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud and substantive bank fraud violations.
Most of the people charged appeared before a US Magistrate Thursday. Galarraga remains at large.
Bank fraud charges could send each person arrested for prison for up to 30 years or more, depending on the number of charges against them.