RALEIGH, N.C. – Shawn Franklin, Sabrina Wiggins Branch and Anthony Maryland were each sentenced today to terms of imprisonment for conspiring with one another to commit bank and wire fraud. Franklin, currently residing in Georgia, was sentenced today to 126 months in prison for organizing and leading a multi-year conspiracy to defraud financial institutions and lenders of more than one million dollars. Branch was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Maryland to one day followed by eight months of home detention. On September 30, all three pleaded guilty to the Conspiracy. Franklin also pleaded guilty to Aggravated Identity Theft. All three were ordered to pay restitution and forfeit their fraud proceeds to the United States in the form of money judgements.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, Franklin, age 48, Branch, age 39, and Maryland, age 49, used synthetic identities to apply for credit and financing. Branch and Maryland used their real names coupled with nine-digit-numbers that were not issued to them by the social security administration on credit and loan applications. Franklin also used his real name, variations of his name or his ex-wife’s name coupled with nine-digit-numbers that were never issued or issued to others by the social security administration. To build the creditworthiness, these illegal synthetic identities, often referred to as “CPNs” or “credit privacy numbers,” were added as authorized users to credit cards belonging to other individuals who have positive credit scores.
In addition to using synthetic identities in his name or variations of his name to obtain credit, Franklin used the real names and social security numbers of 10 NC Medicaid recipients to obtain credit cards, consumer loans and vehicle financing. Franklin previously had access to this personal information when he operated Wayne County Day Treatment, a NC Medicaid mental health provider. Franklin also rented an apartment in Raleigh in the name of one of the Medicaid recipients without permission. Maryland resided in the apartment. To rent the apartment and obtain the loans, Franklin provided fictitious NC driver’s licenses in these individuals’ names that bore his image.
Franklin maximized the fraud proceeds on the credit cards by making bogus payments, often by telephone or online. This caused the banks to reinstate the credit limits. Before the credit issuer received notification that the payments were bogus, additional charges were incurred, resulting in significant losses.
Franklin used the cards to pay many personal expenditures for himself and his family, including his stepdaughter’s tuition to Spelman College and associated living expenses, his other adult daughters’ orthodontist bill and his ex-wife’s dental and plastic surgery procedures.
To generate cash, Franklin conspired with Branch to charge more than $600,000 on fraudulently obtained credit cards through Branch’s various merchant accounts associated with her retail store in Wilmington’s Independence Mall. Franklin and Wiggins split the proceeds: 85% to Franklin and 15% to Branch. After the merchant account processor deposited the illegal proceeds into a Branch’s bank account, she withdrew Franklin’s share in cash. Branch kept her withdrawals under $10,000 to avoid the filing of a currency transaction report.
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The United States Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan B. Menzer prosecuted the case.
Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:21-cr-00315-D.