Fourteen people charged with scheming to defraud banks and individuals with counterfeit CARES Act stimulus checks

 

Date: October 23, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Newark, New Jersey – Fourteen people have been charged with scheming to defraud banks and individuals with counterfeit economic stimulus checks purportedly issued by the Treasury Department pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Charged by complaint with conspiracy to commit bank fraud are:

Defendant Residence
Justin Ezeiruaku Berlin, New Jersey
Torri Pedro Sicklerville, New Jersey
Akume Ehoggi * Glassboro, New Jersey
Kassan Knight Newark
Nakirah Matthews Paulsboro, New Jersey
Qwan Taylor * Pennsauken, New Jersey
Kwaeson Watts * Lindenwold, New Jersey
Nasir Johnson * Newark
Daeson Monroe * Philadelphia
Daron Curry Westville, New Jersey
Talib Crump Philadelphia
Noah Brent-Magri * Somerset, New Jersey
Isaiah White  Virginia Beach, Virginia
Ali Shoultz Clementon, New Jersey

* Denotes at-large.

Knight, Pedro, Shoultz, Matthews and Curry made their initial appearances October 22, 2020, by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio. Ezeiruako will make his appearance on October 26, 2020. Crump is in custody in Philadelphia. White was arrested in Virginia and will have an initial appearance at a date to be determined.

According to documents filed in this case:

U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) postal inspectors and special agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), uncovered a nationwide scheme involving counterfeit economic stimulus checks deposited into bank accounts with the intent to defraud the banks. A network of individuals posted advertisements on Instagram and Snapchat offering people the ability to make "quick cash" if they banked at certain institutions. Some members of the conspiracy acquired individuals' banking information using a ruse, while others printed the counterfeit stimulus checks that they deposited into the accounts. Members of the conspiracy used ATM machines, and peer-to-peer bank transfers, as well as debit cards, to make large purchases and large cash withdrawals. Individuals financed purchases of luxury cars and paid for their apartments with the stolen funds. In many cases, the individuals whose accounts were compromised suffered financial losses and credit problems, while others were complicit in the fraud.

The count of bank fraud conspiracy is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark; inspectors with the USPIS Philadelphia Division, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Damon Woods, and Eastern Area, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Kenneth Cleevely; special agents of HSI, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark; the U.S. Marshals Service, District of New Jersey, under the direction of U.S. Marshal Juan Mattos; the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, under the direction of Attorney General Josh Shapiro; the Glassboro Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Polillo; the Winslow Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief George M. Smith; the Gloucester Township Police Department, Special Investigations Unit, under the direction of Chief David J. Harkins; the Pennsauken Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jon Nettleton; the Paulsboro Police Department, under the direction of Chief Gary Kille; the Lindenwold Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael McCarthy; the West Whiteland Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Lee Benson; the Pennsylvania State Police, under the direction of Capt. James Kemm; the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Gaming Enforcement, under the direction of Lt. Kevin Conrad; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, conducted the investigation leading to the charges.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.