Charles Washington pleads guilty to role in USD4 Million bank fraud conspiracy

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A Dorchester man Charles Washington, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston in connection with a USD4 million bank fraud scheme.

The 44 year-old pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud for his role in coordinating unauthorized withdrawals from federally insured banks. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for Nov. 2, 2017.

Charles Washington obtained bank account information, personally identifiable information, and sample signatures for bank customers with high balances. He recruited runners to impersonate the account holders at bank branches in order to make unauthorized withdrawals and obtained and distributed fake driver’s licenses to the runners that bore the runners’ photographs with the account holders’ personal information. Washington instructed the runners on how to forge the victims’ signatures. To avoid detection, runners withdrew money from victims’ accounts at several different bank branches.

Washington and others also recruited runners to open bank accounts (known as drop accounts) in the name of non-existent businesses (known as shell business). The shell businesses were registered and named as if they were title companies, property management companies, contracting businesses, and other businesses for which incoming large-dollar wire transfers would not be unusual.

Washington provided the shell businesses’ information to co-conspirators who made unauthorized wire transfers in the hundreds of thousands of dollars into the drop accounts. Once the drop accounts were funded with unauthorized wire transfers, Washington and co-conspirators accompanied runners to bank branches to withdraw the money — in cash, by check, or by wire transfers to other drop accounts — before the victims of the unauthorized wire transfers realized that their accounts had been compromised.

Charles Washington and co-conspirators gained unauthorized access to approximately USD4 million – either in bank accounts that they took over, or in proceeds unlawfully wired to drop accounts for withdrawal – and successfully withdrew approximately USD2 million.

The charges of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy provide for a sentence of no greater than 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of USD1 million, and restitution. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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