Metro East Man Sentenced to Prison for Bank Fraud Scam

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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 
of money.

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.

Related:  Boston Man Sentenced for Role in Armed Robbery of Brockton Cell Phone Store

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.

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