Three defendants convicted of fraud and identity theft targeting bank and credit union customers | USAO-WDMI
Three Miami residents stole $1,400,000 from hundreds of depositors by posing as security guards to gain access to online accounts.
GREAT RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — US District Judge Paul Maloney today sentenced Cedric Smith to 70 months in prison. His sentence is the latest in a West Michigan federal case charging three residents of Miami, Florida with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
In February 2021, a grand jury charged Cedric Smith, Daja Smith, and Devonte Hoskins with stealing the identities of bank and credit union customers and then using that information to commit widespread fraud. Prior to today’s sentencing, Judge Maloney sentenced Daja Smith to five years in prison; Devonte Hoskins received a six-year term.
The fraudulent scheme exploited the online system used by customers of banks and credit unions around the world. Defendants identified a targeted customer’s online account using compromised personal information they purchased from internet hackers. To obtain a client’s confidential password and access to money in the client’s account, the defendants called the client, posing as bank security personnel, and incited the victim to share the unique code that a bank sends to its customers when they need to reset their password. Then the defendants emptied the victim’s account and transferred the money where they could use it for their own purposes. The defendants, operating out of Miami, Florida, targeted victims across the United States in this manner, including clients of United Federal Credit Union in St. Joseph, Michigan. Total losses are estimated at $1,400,000.
US Attorney Mark Totten said he was satisfied with the convictions and sentences. “Online thieves like these think they’ll never be caught because they can hide on the internet. They’re wrong. We have the tools to identify and track them, even if they’ve committed their crimes hundreds of miles away. And that’s what we’ll do.”
“These defendants may have thought they were beyond the reach of law enforcement because their crimes were committed entirely online,” said FBI Michigan Special Agent in Charge James A. Tarasca. “They were seriously mistaken. The FBI treats these types of financial crimes very seriously and we will use our considerable resources to bring cybercriminals to justice.
This case was investigated by the St. Joseph office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was led by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy VerHey.