Identity Theft Ringleader Gets 12-Year Prison Sentence
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 14, 2013|
PHILADELPHIA—Lawrence Fudge, 47, of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to 144 months in prison for running a fraud and identity theft ring in Philadelphia for at least six years. Fudge pleaded guilty in December 2012 to conspiracy, six counts of bank fraud, eight counts of access device fraud, and 18 counts of aggravated identity theft. Through the course of the scheme, Fudge recruited bank employees and an insurance company employee to abuse the trust placed in them by their employers and pass on to him the bank account and personal information of dozens of victims. He insulated himself from the actual fraudulent transactions by recruiting others to find sources of victim information and by finding “check runners” to conduct the fraudulent transactions at the banks, to open the fraudulent retail store credit accounts, and to make the purchases at the retail stores with those fraudulently opened accounts. With others, he traveled within and outside Pennsylvania to run his fraud and identity theft scheme. In addition, Fudge admitted that he committed additional crimes of the same nature between September 1, 2011 and November 14, 2012, while he was on pretrial release on this case.
Found in Fudge’s red Toyota truck at the time of his initial arrest, on August 30, 2011, were a number of documents and other items, including driver’s licenses and documents with personal and bank account information in the names of individuals who had not previously been identified by law enforcement as victims. The intended amount of fraud and attempted fraud that is attributed to the illegal activities of Lawrence Fudge and his ring—from conducting fraudulent transactions against victims’ bank accounts and opening retail store credit accounts in victims’ names and then making purchases with those accounts—is more than $357,030.
Examples of Fudge’s fraud include: in August 2011, accounts at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Target were opened using the identity of victim C.S. More than $8,000 in purchases were made with those fraudulent accounts and more than $1,500 was fraudulently withdrawn from her Bank of America bank account. In that same timeframe, accounts at Lowe’s, Target, and Sam’s Club were opened using the identity of victim M.W. with more than $15,000 in purchases made with those fraudulent accounts, and additional accounts at Best Buy and Staples attempted to be opened. Also in that same time frame, accounts at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy, and Target were opened using the identity of victim P.V. with more than $10,000 in purchases made with those fraudulent accounts.
Several of the victims have detailed the emotional distress and negative impact these crimes had on their lives. They describe their fear, their feelings of violation, and the lack of safety they now feel and, indeed, may always feel. One victim, who is a widow, described how the theft of the identity of her deceased husband left her “shaken to the core,” with the realization that her husband’s insurance policy, meant to protect his family, was the means of the theft of his identity and her security.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence F. Stengel ordered restitution of $311,878, a special assessment of $3,300, and 10 years of supervised release.
The case was investigated by United States Postal Inspection Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of multiple local police departments. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney K.T. Newton.