Pennsylvania Man Admits Bank Fraud Conspiracy that Operated in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania

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

CAMDEN, N.J. – A Pennsylvania man today admitted to his role in a bank fraud conspiracy that targeted 12 different financial institutions in southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Ahmed Bamidele Ponle, 42, of Darby, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud,.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Ponle was part of a multi-defendant, Nigerian-based, multi-layered criminal organization that engaged in a massive bank fraud conspiracy in several states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Rhode Island, between June 2016 and March 2020. Members of the group acquired numerous business checks that were stolen from the United States mail, altered the payee on the checks to a fraudulent name. They deposited the checks into bank accounts that had been opened with forged foreign passport documents and fraudulent U.S. visas that matched the names on the stolen checks. Once the banks credited all or a portion of the funds to the accounts, but before the checks had cleared, the defendants withdrew the funds from ATMs or purchased money orders, using debit cards associated with the fraudulent accounts. Members of the organization have used over 400 fraudulent accounts opened with fake identity documents to defraud the victim banks. To date, the total loss to the victim banks is approximately $6 million.

Ponle admitted his role in the conspiracy, which included using several false identities to open fraudulent bank accounts. He then made numerous deposits of stolen checks to these accounts and withdrew funds from the accounts.

As part of his plea, Ponle agreed to forfeit his interest in approximately $90,000 worth of money orders which were proceeds of the bank fraud and which were seized from a public storage facility in Philadelphia used by the conspirators to store additional fraudulent identity documents and proceeds of the bank fraud.

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The bank fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 10, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Bellmawr office and Philadelphia Division Office, under the direction of Damon E. Wood, Inspector in Charge, Philadelphia Division; U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington, D.C. Division Office, under the direction of Peter R. Rendina, Washington Division Inspector in Charge; the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Cherry Hill Office and Newark Division Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina; Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia Division Office, under the Direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge William S. Walker; Homeland Security Investigations Maryland Division Office, under the direction of James R. Mancuso, Special Agent in Charge, Baltimore; Homeland Security Investigations Rhode Island Office, under the direction of Matthew Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge, Boston Division Office; and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), under the direction of R. Mike Escott, Resident Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Resident Office, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

Three other conspirators have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing before Judge Hillman. Charges against eight other defendants remain pending before the District Court.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick C. Askin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

The charges and allegations contained in the pending complaints and indictments against the remaining eight conspirators are merely accusations, and the defendants in those cases are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.