U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia
(703) 299-3700
November 6, 2015

Brothers Sentenced for Leading Bank Fraud and Identity Theft Scheme

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Ray Ekobena, 27, of Alexandria, and his brother, Stefan Ekobena, 24, of Atlanta, were sentenced today for leading a five-year check fraud and identity theft conspiracy. Co-conspirator Rodney Hardy, 25, of Hyattsville, Maryland, was also sentenced today for his role in the scheme.

“Ekobena ran a check fraud scheme that lasted for five years,” said U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente. “Ever the entrepreneur, Ekobena launched additional schemes at the same time, including his elaborate plot to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from a children’s hospital. Along the way he and his crew victimized hundreds of individuals, charities, small businesses, and financial institutions. I want to commend our prosecutors and investigative partners for a job well done in bringing these criminals to justice.”

According to statements of fact filed with the plea agreements, Ray Ekobena and his younger brother, Stefan Ekobena, printed fraudulent checks using victims’ bank account information. The Ekobenas’ obtained this information by enlisting bank tellers and other insiders who had access to sensitive personal information through their employment. Co-conspirators such as Rodney Hardy, Jerome Johnson, Gani Cole, Deallto Davis and Alan Lamin furthered the conspiracy by depositing the fraudulent checks into bank accounts under false names and withdrawing the resulting funds before the banks discovered the fraud. Ray Ekobena also obtained loans in the names of his identity theft victims to buy luxury vehicles including a Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, and a tractor-trailer.

“The Ekobena brothers and their co-conspirators targeted individuals, charities, and businesses in a criminal scheme to fraudulently obtain and exploit personal information for their own selfish financial gain,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI, together with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, will continue to relentlessly pursue and bring to justice those who engage in identity theft and victimize innocent people, financially or otherwise.”

In total, the conspiracies victimized over 200 individuals and caused an actual loss amount of $712,231, and an intended loss amount of over $1.25 million. Victims include well-known small businesses and charities, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Children’s National Medical Center.

“The suspects in this scheme fraudulently used the mail to prey upon innocent victims and charities,” said David G. Bowers, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). “Postal Inspectors, with the support of partnering federal and local law enforcement agencies, worked aggressively to dismantle this scheme and bring these individuals to justice.”

Name

Age

Hometown

Sentencing Details

Ray Ekobena

27

Alexandria

Sentenced today to 104 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Ordered to forfeit $712,231.22 and pay that amount in restitution.

Stefan Ekobena

24

Atlanta, Georgia

Sentenced today to 66 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Ordered to forfeit $199,808.29 and pay that amount in restitution.

Rodney Hardy

25

Hyattsville, Maryland

Sentenced today to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Ordered to forfeit $20,618.41 and pay that amount in restitution.

Jerome Johnson

32

Washington, D.C.

Sentencing scheduled for Dec. 4, 2015

Deallto Davis

20

Washington, D.C.

Sentencing scheduled for Dec. 4, 2015

Gani Cole

27

Atlanta, Georgia

Sentencing scheduled for

Jan. 22, 2015

Alan Lamin

25

Washington, D.C.

Sentenced on July 8, 2015 to 54 months in prison. Ordered to forfeit $124,640.87 and pay that amount in restitution.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; David G. Bowers, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); and Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Chief of the Fairfax County Police Department, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph V. Longobardo prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-180.

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