Feds Charge Five in Navy Federal Fraud, ID Theft Ring
Five people have been charged with running a short-lived conspiracy ring of bank fraud and identity theft that stole nearly $90,000 over three months from member accounts at the $54 billion Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Va.
Federal prosecutors in Norfolk, Va., have indicted Donte L. Battin, Ted Joe Armstead, Dymond Chappelle, Camron B. Witkowski and Cameron M. Allen on multiple counts of conspiracy, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
From January to March, 2013, the ring of five conspirators allegedly obtained the personal information – Social Security numbers, date of birth and credit union account information – from lease applications filled out by NFCU members at the North Shore Garden Apartments in Norfolk, Va., according to court documents.
The members had no way of knowing that the information would be used illegitimately, federal prosecutors said.
The fraudulent scheme involved at least 20 different member accounts, court documents reveal.
Federal prosecutors allege the conspirators used the lease agreements to identify individuals with Navy Federal accounts. The conspirators would then impersonate and assume the identity of those account holders over the phone or Internet to steal funds.
What’s more, the conspirators recruited individuals who had Navy Federal accounts to serve as “hosts” for fund transfers, authorities said.
The conspirators would steal money from the victim’s account, cash advances or loan proceeds from fraudulent loan applications and transfer those funds to a host account, according to court documents.
The hosts would agree to accept the cash transfers, withdraw the funds and hand over the money to conspirators.
“After obtaining such monies, the conspirators sometimes gave the host a portion of the money for assisting in the transaction,” the indictment states.
Four of the five conspirators have been arrested. On Thursday, federal authorities detained Battin, Allen and Witkowski who were awaiting hearings in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. Chappelle has been released on a $5,000 bond. Armstead is still at large, according to court documents.