Bozeman Banks Among Those Targeted in Nationwide Cash Card Scheme
Plea Agreements Reached; Two Await Sentencing
|FBI Salt Lake City September 17, 2009|
United States Attorney William W. Mercer for the District of Montana, United States Attorney Lawrence G. Brown for the Eastern District of California, Special Agent In Charge, Timothy J. Fuhrman, of the Salt Lake City FBI Office, Special Agent In Charge, Jean Mitchell, of the United States Secret Service San Francisco Field Office, Chief Mark Tymrak of the Bozeman Montana Police Department, and Chief Michael Spears of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, announce that a fourth defendant has pleaded guilty in a cash card scheme that victimized banks in 10 states. Donald Taylor entered a guilty plea on August 31, 2009 to one count of conspiracy, a violation of Title 18 U.S.C. 371. Three other defendants have pleaded guilty in the scheme that defrauded bank tellers into paying out thousands of dollars. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California the scheme netted between $1 million and $2 million and targeted 37 financial institutions in 2007 and 2008. Banks in Bozeman and Livingston, Montana were among several banks defrauded along with banks in California, Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Texas.
Scheme and Artifice to defraud:
According to plea agreements filed in United States District Court, the group purchased pre-paid credit cards. The “co-schemers loaded cards with small amounts of money but used them to withdraw as much as $9,500 through fraudulent cash advance transactions."
“Runners” would walk into various banks with the pre-paid credit cards and try to get more funds than were loaded on the cards. “Runners” would ask unsuspecting tellers to dial a toll-free number. Bank tellers had no idea the person answering their calls was in on the scheme. That person posed as a card service representative, convinced the tellers the cash cards were worth more and instructed them to push certain buttons on the banks’ machines. The transactions would clear and the “runners” would walk away with thousands of dollars. The funds were shared among the co-conspirators.
Federal and local agencies collaborate to stop nationwide ring:
The FBI’s Bozeman, Montana Resident Agency and the Bozeman Police Department initiated a joint investigation in 2007. They traced the scheme to 11 banks in Bozeman and Livingston, Montana. Bozeman Police Detective Andy Knight said working together was critical to solving the case. “We are proud to have such a close, coordinated relationship with the FBI and with our local banks. Credit card fraud and theft in our community is something that we take very seriously, and this investigation shows the lengths at which both departments will pursue such crime,” said Knight.
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California Lawrence G. Brown praised the investigation, “When agents of the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, and local agencies learned that they were investigating the same Sacramento-based ring, they shared information and coordinated their efforts,” he said. According to Brown, “This led to search warrant executions in Sacramento, multiple arrests, multiple guilty pleas, and a ring leader being sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison. A multijurisdictional crime got a very effective multi-agency, multijurisdictional response.”
Special Agent In Charge Timothy J. Fuhrman of the Salt Lake City FBI Office, reiterated the importance of collaboration, “Complex financial schemes, crossing multijurisdictional lines, sometimes fall through the cracks due to the number of different agencies and jurisdictions that are responsible for conducting fraud investigations. In these situations, the nationwide resources of the FBI are brought to bear to ensure individuals, who would use the system to financially profit from ill-gotten gains, are brought to justice. Such is the outcome in this case,” said Fuhrman.
Defendants plead guilty; one sentenced to 10 year prison term:
United States District Court for the Eastern District of California:
- Charles Barksdale, 28, of California, was sentenced on August 17, 2009 to 10 years and 10 months in prison for bank fraud. Barksdale pleaded guilty in February 2009. Funds were transferred to Barksdale after the fraudulent bank transactions were made.
- Kevin James Dixon, 38, of Oregon, pleaded guilty to one count of interstate transportation of money obtained by fraud, and one weapons charge. According to the plea agreement, Dixon made fraudulent transactions at banks around the nation, including Montana. Dixon is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5, 2009.
- Donald Taylor, 38, of California, who acted as a middleman by recruiting “runners” for the scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced on November 9, 2009.
United States District Court for the District of Montana: