2 MEN CHARGED WITH LEADING LARGE-SCALE IMPERSONATION SCHEME TO STEAL $2 MILLION FROM CENTRAL PA. BANKS, CUSTOMERS
Investigation Continues as More Arrests, Charges Are Expected in Multi-County Ring
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced charges against two men at the top of a widespread bank fraud operation that involved impersonation of bank employees and customers, and resulted in thefts of approximately $2 million from consumers and financial institutions.
Tyreese Lewis, 22, and Carl A. Gonzalez, 19, were recently arrested and charged with numerous counts of corrupt organizations, identity theft, bank consumer impersonation, access device fraud, computer trespass, and related offenses. The Office of Attorney General and Pennsylvania State Police filed charges in conjunction with a collaborative investigation, which is ongoing.
Investigators allege the defendants targeted financial institutions and consumers in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, and York Counties.
Lewis, of Harrisburg, was recently arrested in Los Angeles, arraigned in Dauphin County, and incarcerated without bail.
Gonzalez, of Highspire, was arrested Thursday and arraigned, when his bail was set at $10,000 unsecured.
“This was an elaborate scheme that involved impersonation of both bank employees and consumers to obtain personal information that enabled the defendants to steal millions of dollars,” Attorney General Henry said. “I commend everyone involved in the still-ongoing investigation, which began many months ago and included meticulous analysis of bank records and transactions. My office is committed to holding fully accountable everyone involved in this far-reaching scheme.”
The investigation uncovered numerous fraudulent bank transactions and subsequent purchases. The defendants and co-conspirators withdrew money from accounts or used stolen debit card information to purchase gift cards, which the defendants bought in efforts to conceal the thefts. The defendants made purchases at a variety of locations, including department/apparel stores and gas stations, and reimbursed many gift cards for cash.
Investigators seized and analyzed several mobile devices that revealed hundreds of potential consumer targets, as well as communications about the theft scheme.
“All identity theft-related crimes cause significant financial stress for the victims, and often have long-term repercussions lasting months, if not years, to rectify,” said Pennsylvania State Police Captain James Cuttitta, Commander of the Special Investigations Division, Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “I’m proud of the work our investigators have done and thankful for the support from the Office of Attorney General.”
The case will be prosecuted by the Chief Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte. All charges are accusations. The defendants are innocent unless and until proven guilty.