Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce the indictment of 14 individuals for their involvement in a scheme through which they gained online access to the personal checking and savings accounts of unsuspecting bank customers to steal funds from these accounts.
Charged in the indictment are defendants Ibrahin Elias, 24, of Hialeah; Dalbert Hernandez, 22, of Miami; Victor Batista, 22, of Hialeah; Roger Lores, 23, of Hialeah; Aniuta Castro-Ruiz, 53, of Hialeah; Dayan Galarraga, 40, of Hialeah; Yanelis Curbera, 34, of Hialeah; Dalmis Gonzalez, 30, of Hialeah; Yoleisy Legarde, 29, of Miami; Howard Mitchell, 27, of Miami; Yovani Gonzalez, 26, of Miami; Idalma Chaskel Kessel, 45, of Hialeah; Maribel Perez, 23, of Hialeah; and Edisbel Rodriguez, 36, of Miami. Defendants Elias, Hernandez, Batista, Lores, Castro-Ruiz, Curbera, D. Gonzalez, Legarde, Mitchell, Y. Gonzalez, Kessel, Perez, and Rodriguez were arrested in Miami earlier today are expected to make their initial appearances in federal court at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres. Defendant Galarraga remains at large.
According to the allegations in the indictment, Ibrahin Elias used stolen personal identification information of unwitting bank customers, including names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers, to impersonate bank customers and access their accounts through their banks’ website. Once Elias had control of an account, Elias transferred funds to accomplices, who made their own accounts available to receive the stolen money. Elias also ordered checks which were used to drain victims’ accounts. Elias is charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; 16 counts of substantive bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344; three counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A; and one count for destruction of evidence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1519.
The indictment alleges that defendants Dalbert Hernandez and Victor Batista received stolen funds and recruited others to participate in the scheme. Hernandez and Batista are both charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud, and Batista is charged with four substantive bank fraud counts.
According to the charges, defendants Roger Lores, Aniuta Castro-Ruiz, Dayan Galarraga, Yanelis Curbera, and Dalmis Gonzalez received stolen funds by means of electronic online transfers and charged a fee for this service. Once the defendants received the stolen funds, they and others made withdrawals from different locations and returned the bulk of the proceeds to their handlers. They are charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud and substantive bank fraud violations.
Lastly, defendants Yoleisy Legarde, Howard Mitchell, Yovani Gonzalez, Idalma Chaskel Kessel, Maribel Perez, and Edisbel Rodriguez, are alleged to have cashed stolen checks obtained through Elias’ online fraud. They are charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud and substantive bank fraud violations.
If convicted, each defendant charged with conspiracy and bank fraud violations faces a potential maximum statutory sentence of 30 years in prison. Additionally, Elias faces mandatory consecutive two-year sentences for each conviction for aggravated identity theft and a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for attempting to destroy evidence.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rochlin.
An indictment is only an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.