NEWARK – Two Elizabeth women were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for their roles in a wide-ranging counterfeit check scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Synethia Bland, 29, and Latisha White, 28, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud, all of which caused losses of at least $400,000.
According to the indictment and other documents filed in this case:
Between October 2009 and May of 2012, Bland and White allegedly created more than 150 counterfeit checks, most or all of which were in amounts of less than $5,000. Bland and White allegedly recruited numerous individuals who either held bank accounts at TD Bank or would be willing to open a new account at that bank. Bland and White allegedly induced them to participate in their scheme by promising to share some of the proceeds.
After obtaining the cooperation of an account holder, Bland and White would allegedly deposit one of their counterfeit checks into that person’s bank account. Within a day or two of such a deposit, and before the bank realized that the deposited check was counterfeit, Bland and White would allegedly arrange to draw down the funds credited by the deposit. Funds were drawn through ATM withdrawals, cash withdrawals at banks and the purchase of money orders and merchandise.
Bland and White allegedly orchestrated the deposits of more than $600,000 in counterfeit checks into more than 120 different bank accounts. Among such deposits were the deposits of counterfeit checks in the amounts of $4,529 on July 12, 2010; $4,865 on Feb. 13, 2012, and $4,725 on May 2, 2012.
Each of the four charges is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment and complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Mottola; postal inspectors under the direction of U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates; investigators at the Union County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Grace H. Park; and investigators at the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp.
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