A New Jersey woman was sentenced last week to nine years in federal prison after confessing to a loan scheme that bilked $1.6 million from five credit unions and a bank, authorities said.
The case follows on the heels of similar schemes in Maryland and Alabama, which have prompted industry experts to issue advice urging credit unions to exercise due diligence to mitigate fraud risk when opening accounts for new businesses.
In the latest case, Katrina Taniesha Waters, 33, of Williamstown, N.J., pleaded guilty in a Philadelphia courtroom to 83 counts, including identity theft, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and filing false tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Waters and an unnamed conspirator set up an account for a fake auto dealership in 2008 and began a four-year spree of applying for loans using fraudulent certificates of title, vehicle identification numbers and auto lender documents, authorities said.
Waters admitted using false information to apply for vehicle loans and other loans from the:
- $10 million Police & Fire FCU of Linden, N.J.
- $55 billion Navy FCU in Vienna, Va.
- $880 million Philadelphia FCU in Philadelphia
- $1.3 billion American Heritage FCU in Philadelphia
- $624 million Freedom FCU in Warminster, Penn.
For example, in applying for membership at Navy Federal, she “falsely represented that she was on active duty in the U.S. Army” and used fraudulent information to obtain six loans totaling $260,000 during a one-year span, according to court documents.
In addition to the prison sentence, which includes a mandatory 24-month stay behind bars, the judge ordered an $8,300 special assessment, three years of supervised release and for Waters to forfeit a $425,000 home in New Jersey, rental properties in Philadelphia, two motorcycles, an ATV, and hundreds of designer handbags and shoes.