Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Hand with tweezers holding id photo over passport as if forging the travel documents

Online banking customers enjoy instant access to their account balances from their computers and mobile devices. Checking account balances, reviewing transactions, paying bills and easily transferring money between accounts is a nice perk of the service. A Sandy Springs, Ga., man used his online banking access illegally to carry out a nationwide bank fraud and identity theft scheme.

Sean Christopher Williams, 40, executed his fraudulent schemes by stealing the identities of approximately 35 victims, including names and Social Security Numbers. This stolen personal information was used to open bogus, unfunded accounts at multiple financial institutions.

The next stage of the scheme involved transferring fraudulent funds from one account to another, while knowing that the transferring account didn’t have any funds to support the transfer. (Sounds like the shell game where a small item is quickly shifted from under one shell to another to fool the observer guessing which shell is hiding the item.)

Investigators discovered that Williams used the receiving account to pay off debt, including credit cards and student loans, before the receiving bank could figure out that there were no funds coming in. The sophisticated identity theft scam that impacted many victims across the country also cost multiple financial institutions more than $185,000.

After pleading guilty to one count of bank fraud and attempt and one count of aggravated identity theft, Williams was sentenced to serve three years in prison and five years of supervised release. He must also pay restitution in the amount of $185,920.

This type of fraud scheme is very difficult to unravel, especially since it involved victims and bank accounts located across the country. Congratulations to the FBI for paying attention to this sleight of hand trick the fraudster from Georgia tried to pull. While this type of scheme is one of the oldest in the book of fraud, Williams could not fool the FBI.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “FBI: Sandy Springs man sentenced for nationwide bank fraud, identity theft,” published by Fox 5 Atlanta on March 14, 2021.

PHILADELPHIA – Feds say a Sandy Springs man will serve three years in prison for an elaborate fraud scheme that involved using fraudulent bank accounts and stealing people’s identities.

The FBI said Sean Christopher Williams, 40 of Sandy Springs, cost banks more than $185,000 and stole the identities of around 35 individual victims whose names and social security numbers were attached to the fraudulent accounts.


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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.