U.S. Attorney's Office
District of South Carolina
(803) 929-3000
October 28, 2014

Spartanburg Man Sentenced to 37 Months for Defrauding Banks and Car Dealers

COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Michael L. Wolfenbarger, age 42, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, was sentenced today in federal court in Anderson, South Carolina, for wire fraud, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343. United States District Judge Timothy M. Cain sentenced Wolfenbarger to 37 months’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay $1.3 million in restitution.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Wolfenbarger acted as the middleman between various automotive dealerships and private individuals in the purchase and sale of used vehicles. Wolfenbarger utilized bank accounts at Branch Banking & Trust Company and The Palmetto Bank in his business affairs. Wolfenbarger would write checks drawn on bank accounts with insufficient funds or create counterfeit instruments and deposit these checks into other accounts. The pattern of depositing insufficient funds (“NSF”) checks and counterfeit instruments resulted in the books and records of the Banks showing inflated balances that permitted these NSF checks or counterfeit instruments to be honored rather than returned unpaid. Wolfenbarger would then withdraw monies from the Banks and/or write checks for goods and services based on inflated balances and thus take advantage of the time required for a check deposited in one bank to be physically presented for payment at the bank on which it was drawn. It was further part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that Wolfenbarger, rather than remitting funds to the automotive dealerships once a used vehicle had been sold, would deposit these funds in accounts with the Banks in an effort to perpetuate the kite and cover bad checks that he had written. Through this scheme an artifice, the victims lost approximately $1.3 million.

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.

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