SANTA ANA, Calif. — Seven Los Angeles-area residents have been charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud for allegedly participating in an identity theft scheme that targeted hundreds of JP Morgan Chase & Co. account holders across the nation and caused more than $1 million in losses.
Six of the defendants were taken into custody earlier this week by special agents with the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the United States Secret Service. The seventh defendant is a fugitive who is currently being sought by authorities.
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court June 13, the defendants obtained confidential information belonging to Chase account holders, including birthdates and Social Security numbers. Armed with the stolen information, members of the organization posed as bank clients and withdrew money from the accounts of Chase customers, many of whom were elderly victims.
The accused ringleader – Hardy Jones, 64, of South Los Angeles – was arrested Wednesday. During his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon, Jones was ordered held without bond. He and the other defendants will be arraigned July 8.
The criminal complaint alleges that, after obtaining confidential information belonging to Chase clients, Jones directed "runners" to go to Chase branches to obtain money from victims’ accounts. The runners received a cut as payment, typically one-fourth to one-third of the amount withdrawn. In addition to banks in the Los Angeles area, the criminal complaint describes unauthorized withdrawals at Chase branches in Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.
When federal investigators executed a search warrant at Jones’ residence in March, they recovered numerous counterfeit driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and credit cards bearing the names of Chase account holders. Investigators also recovered detailed ledgers containing the names of Chase clients, their bank account numbers and other identifying information.
"Our investigation into this scheme is still very much ongoing, with the priority being to identify additional perpetrators and victims," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. "If the public has information that may be relevant to this case, we urge them to contact HSI or the FBI."
Also charged in the criminal complaint is Llewellyn Dickson, 48, of South Los Angeles. Dickson, who also was taken into custody Wednesday, is suspected of helping oversee the fraud scheme and transporting runners to the banks to make the unauthorized withdrawals.
The remaining defendants named in the complaint allegedly served as runners who impersonated bank clients. They are:
- Raymond Goodie, 56, of Long Beach; who was arrested Wednesday;
- Takisha Johnson, 37, of South Los Angeles; who surrendered Thursday;
- Andrea Hadley, 44, of South Los Angeles; who surrendered Thursday;
- Patricia Green, 59, of the Watts district of Los Angeles; who surrendered Thursday; and
- Brigette Boylan, 50, of Inglewood, who is a fugitive being sought by authorities.
All seven defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.
In addition to the FBI, HSI and the Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service has provided substantial assistance with the case.
Anyone with information about this case – or who has information concerning the whereabouts of Boylan – is encouraged to contact the FBI at 310-477-6565 or HSI at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (or visit http://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form).