Feds: Bank fraud scheme targeted military personnel

Six south suburban men have been indicted for allegedly defrauding a bank of more than $830,000 in a scheme that targeted members of the U.S. military, the U.S. attorney’s office said Tuesday.

They allegedly deposited counterfeit checks at USAA Federal Savings Bank into accounts belonging to military personnel and others who had been recruited to provide their account information, the government said in announcing the indictments. The defendants allegedly withdrew funds from the accounts, which the bank advanced before it learned the checks were counterfeit, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney.

The bank serves military personnel and their families.

Charged with bank fraud are Kierre Perkins, 22, of South Holland; Steven Vance, 22, of Calumet City; Ian Myvett, 23, of South Holland; Lamonte Powell, 24, of Calumet City; Torey Martin, 24, of Calumet City and Jermel Sanders, 29, of Matteson, the government said. Arraignments for the six have not yet been scheduled.

The scheme relied on social media outlets, with advertisements featuring people in camouflage military uniforms holding large amounts of cash and promising respondents the opportunity to make quick money, according to criminal complaints and investigator affidavits previously filed in the case.

The “cracking cards” scheme began in November 2014 and continued through late last month, according to the complaints and affidavits.

Customers of the bank who responded to the postings handed over account information as well as personal identification numbers, passwords and answers to security questions that allowed the defendants access to the accounts, the government alleges.

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Phony checks would be deposited using the bank’s mobile banking application, through automated teller machines or at area UPS stores, according to the complaints and affidavits. Some, or all, of the funds deposited would be made available for withdrawal right away, the government said.

During the investigation, the government said, “hundreds” of counterfeit checks were recovered.

The indictment was returned June 15, and bank fraud carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

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