EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Lagardo Wright, 21, of Fairview Heights, Illinois, was sentenced to 27
months in federal prison today for orchestrating a large-scale bank fraud scheme.
From at least February 2019 until February 2020, Wright led a team of coconspirators that printed
counterfeit checks, deposited them into other people’s bank accounts, and withdrew the available
proceeds before the banks could determine the checks were counterfeit. Their scheme targeted at
least ten different financial institutions and caused losses over $95,000.
During the conspiracy, Wright’s main objective was finding valid bank accounts to
exploit. Because the banks closed each account for fraud after his counterfeit checks inevitably
bounced, Wright needed a constant supply of new account holders with valid bank accounts to
perpetuate his scheme. He solved this problem by developing and directing a network of
“recruiters.” These middlemen convinced naive account holders to turn over their online
banking information, including usernames, passwords, and pin numbers, in exchange for the promise
Whenever a recruiter found an account holder willing to participate, Wright accessed the account
holder’s bank account online, adjusted deposit and withdrawal limits, printed counterfeit checks,
and arranged for as many fraudulent transactions as possible before the banks caught on and closed
the account. Then he waited for his recruiters to bring him a new account or tried to solicit some
on his own.
Wright and his recruiters found new account holders mostly through social media and cellphone apps,
where they flaunted their “success” to attract followers. Wright posted pictures and videos of
cash, expensive clothing, guns, drugs, and screenshots of bank accounts showing large account
balances. He and his recruiters implored their online followers to contact them if they had a valid
bank account and wanted to make thousands of dollars. Of course, Wright never mentioned that he got
the money by committing bank fraud in the account holders’ names, or that the account holders would
lose their ability to bank and have red flags on credit reports for years to come. In fact, if
young account holders seemed hesitant, Wright and his recruiters assured them that
everything was legitimate and they couldn’t get in any trouble.
During sentencing, United States District Court Judge David Dugan noted that Wright committed
serious crimes by leading a long-term enterprise that was sophisticated for his age. In addition to
the prison sentence, Judge Dugan ordered Wright to spend 4 years on supervised release and pay over $30,000 in restitution.
Two of Wright’s coconspirators, Aijeigh McShan and Cedric Sheard, have pled guilty and will be
sentenced next month. McShan’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 9, 2022.
Cedric Sheard will be sentenced on March 16, 2022.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Luke J. Weissler.