Ringleader and Former Bank Teller in Orange County Bank Fraud and Identity-Theft Scheme Re-Arrested
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the re-arrest of ringleader Tyrone “Reece” Lee and former bank teller Nadia Figueroa on a 50-count indictment in Orange County Supreme Court. The defendants, who are charged with running an identity-theft ring that stole over $457,000 from customers of Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo), both pleaded guilty earlier this year to operating a similar identity-theft scheme in Westchester County.
“Today’s re-arrests show that identity theft remains a growing problem and that we all must redouble efforts to ensure our personal data is safe and secure,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue to take action against anyone who jeopardizes the financial security of New Yorkers – including bank tellers who do so by taking advantage of customers’ trust. And we will continue to work to protect all of us, from large corporations, to small business and families, from this threat.”
The Attorney General’s current indictment, unsealed today in Orange County Supreme Court, charges Lee, 28, and Figueroa, 24, both of the Bronx, with the crimes of Grand Larceny in Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Identity Theft in the First Degree, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, for conduct between July 2010 and August 2011. If convicted of the top count, both defendants face up to 15 years in prison.
The Attorney General’s indictment alleges that Figueroa, while employed as a teller at a Wachovia Bank branch, located at 41 North Plank Road in Newburgh, N.Y., unlawfully accessed and stole the bank account numbers and personal identification information of more than 200 victims from a branch located in Newburgh. According to statements made by prosecutors at arraignment, many of the accounts victimized were selected by a practice known as “name surfing,” wherein Figueroa illegally searched Wachovia’s customer database for common names, states of residence, and high account balances. Lee then allegedly used the stolen information to withdraw funds from 77 customer accounts at branches located Orange County, Nassau County, New York City, as well as in Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.
Among the 123 different Wachovia branches whose customers were victims of identity theft are:
- 3584 Long Beach Road, Oceanside, N.Y.
- 3709 Riverdale Avenue, Bronx, N.Y.
- 1076 Yonkers Avenue, Yonkers, N.Y.
- 339 Hemingway Avenue, East Haven, C.T.
- 150 Elm Street, Westfield, N.J.
- 13140 U.S. Highway 301, Riverview, F.L.
In September 2014, Lee and Figueroa were arrested and charged by the Attorney General’s Office, along with three other individuals, for operating a similar identity-theft ring in Westchester County from July 2012 to June 2014. As in Orange County, Lee orchestrated the hiring of corrupt bank tellers and also directed them to target customers with common names and over $50,000 in their accounts. These bank tellers, including Figueroa, fraudulently accessed and stole personal information, including account numbers and Social Security numbers, from hundreds of customers at Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and TD Bank. The customer information was later smuggled to Lee, who conspired to create fraudulent checks and identification documents using the stolen customer information. Lee arranged for other ring members to impersonate bank account holders, using these fake documents, in order to withdraw money at bank branches in Westchester County, New York City and Long Island, as well as Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Earlier this year, Lee pleaded guilty to the entire 37-count Westchester County indictment against him, including multiple counts of Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees and Identity Theft in the First Degree, and was sentenced to 4 ½ to 9 years in state prison. Figueroa pleaded guiltyto Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prisonin Westchester County Supreme Court on May 14. Their three charged co-conspirators in the Westchester scheme also pleaded guilty.
Both defendants were arraigned today on the new indictment before Judge Jeffrey G. Berry in Orange County Supreme Court.
The charges against the defendants are allegations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
SOURCE: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman