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Financial Crimes

3 indicted in bank fraud scheme

BALTIMORE — On March 27 a federal grand jury indicted three individuals in connection with a bank fraud scheme to use the personal identifying information of individuals to fraudulently obtain money and property, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Christopher Andre Devine, 33, of Salisbury, Md., Quanishia Williamson-Ross, 31, of Frederica, Del., and Lenee E. Williamson, 22, of Philadelphia, Pa., were indicted in a 10-count federal indictment and face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for bank fraud conspiracy, 15 years in prison on each of four counts of access device fraud, two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence on four counts of aggravated identity theft and five years in prison for possession of five or more false identification documents. No court appearance has been scheduled. The defendants are detained.

According to the indictment, from December 2008 through Dec. 22, 2011, in Maryland, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, the defendants opened checking accounts or had others open accounts at banks, and obtain check cards, which the conspirators then controlled. According to the indictment, the conspirators deposited fraudulent checks into the accounts, then used the associated check cards at ATM machines to make cash withdrawals from the accounts.

The defendants are also alleged to have made fraudulent identification documents using the personal information of others but with photographs of Devine, Williamson-Ross and Williamson, which they allegedly used, along with the check cards, to make purchases at retail stores, later returning the purchased items for cash. The indictment further alleges that the defendants also used the check cards to obtain services, such as utilities, cable and cellular phone service, and make purchases for their personal benefit at restaurants, drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations and video rentals, and other businesses.

According to the indictment, Devine, Williamson-Ross and Williamson would not pay for the services and merchandise obtained through the use of the check cards and checking accounts, and the banks suffered a loss when the fraudulent checks deposited by the defendants were returned as unpaid.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

The investigation was conducted by HSI Baltimore; the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office; IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office and SSA Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and Kristi N. O'Malley.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.