19 defendants face federal bank fraud charges in card scheme


A federal grand jury has issued charges of bank fraud against 19 defendants residing in Michigan, Illinois and Georgia.

The defendants are accused, in a 28-count indictment, of conspiring to commit bank fraud and executing a scheme to defraud Bank of America, Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today in a written statement.

The investigation determined losses of more than $200,000 to Bank of America through ATM withdrawals against fraudulent check deposits. Law enforcement officers refer to that type of bank fraud scheme as cracking cards.

Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assisted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, and several state law enforcement officers assigned to the FBI’s Grand Rapids Violent Crime and Fugitive Task Force, Muskegon Safe Streets Task Force, and St. Joseph Violent Crime Task Force, began arresting the defendants Thursday.

According to the indictment, from November 2015 to December 2015, the defendants opened bank accounts at Bank of America to facilitate the deposit of fraudulent checks. Once a check was deposited into an account and the bank temporarily credited the account with funds, the account holder and others used a debit card associated with the account to obtain cash. The charges allege that the defendants conducted numerous cash withdrawals at ATM machines and bank branches, and cash advance transactions at FireKeepers Casino near Battle Creek, Michigan, to unlawfully obtain money belonging to the bank.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

The investigation is ongoing by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with assistance from the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Tribal Police Department. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Zell and Christopher O’Connor.

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