Eight People Charged in a Bank Fraud Scheme That Allegedly Used Information Stolen by Wells Fargo Employees to Access Accounts
LOS ANGELES—Special agents with the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service have arrested the lead defendant in a bank fraud case, an Inglewood man who allegedly orchestrated a scheme in which Wells Fargo Bank employees stole customer account information, and other conspirators used that information to impersonate customers and steal money from their accounts.
Ronald Reed is among eight defendants who were charged in two indictments returned by a federal grand jury last week. Three of the defendants have not yet been identified, and authorities are seeking the public’s help in identifying and apprehending the currently unknown individuals.
Reed was arrested yesterday, and two former bank employees surrendered to federal authorities this morning. All three defendants are expected to be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court.
The indictments charge Reed, four former bank employees and the 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 of these defendants 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.
This matter was jointly investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service. Wells Fargo Bank fully cooperated during the investigation.
Members of the public who have information about the three runners who have not yet been identified are asked to call the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (310) 477-6565.