You might call it a bank robbery in reverse. The FBI and Secret Service have arrested one man and are looking for several others in a scheme in which Wells Fargo Bank employees allegedly stole customer account info and used it to steal money from the customers' accounts.
Ronald Reed of Inglewood, Calif., was arrested earlier this week and two former bank employees surrendered to federal authorities. Other defendants are still being sought.
Grand jury indictments charge Reed, four former bank employees and three unknown individuals in a scheme that caused Wells Fargo to suffer losses of approximately $1.4 million.
The scheme detailed in the indictments alleges that Reed recruited four bank employees in 2013 and 2014, asked them to access the bank’s computer records, and then purchased personal identifying information belonging to bank customers, including dates of birth, account numbers, driver’s license numbers, and Social Security numbers.
With this information, the currently unidentified “runners” used fake IDs to impersonate bank customers and made substantial cash withdrawals from the customers’ accounts. In some cases, the runners also used the customer’s account to deposit worthless checks and receive cash back.
The fraudulent transactions were made at bank branches across Southern California and in other states, including Minnesota and Nevada.
The defendants charged in the indictments are:
- Ronald Reed, also known as “Disco Ronnie,” 69;
- Michael Hester, 35, of Los Angeles, a former Wells Fargo employee;
- Jamal Hurley, 39, of Garden Grove, a former Wells Fargo employee;
- Garrick James Davis-Looney, 22, of Torrance, a former Wells Fargo employee;
- Jonathan Lawrence Cobbs, Jr., 35, of Los Angeles, a former Wells Fargo employee; and
- three defendants identified in the indictment as FNU LNU (First Name Unknown, Last Name Unknown).
All are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, as well as various substantive counts of bank fraud, each of which carry a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. Additionally, each of the defendants is charged with at least one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.
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