Three Miami Residents Stole $1,400,000 From Hundreds of Depositors by Posing as Security Officials to Obtain Access to Online Accounts.
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney today sentenced Cedric Smith to a prison term of 70 months. His sentence is the last handed down in a West Michigan federal case charging three Miami, Florida residents with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
In February 2021, a grand jury charged Cedric Smith, Daja Smith and Devonte Hoskins with stealing the identities of customers of banks and credit unions and then using that information to commit widespread fraud. Prior to today’s sentence, Judge Maloney ordered Daja Smith to a prison term of five years; Devonte Hoskins received a term of six years.
The fraudulent scheme exploited the online system used by customers of banks and credit unions everywhere. The defendants identified a targeted customer’s online account using compromised personal information they purchased from computer hackers on the internet. To obtain a customer’s confidential password and access to the money in the customer’s account, the defendants called the customer, posing as bank security personnel, and induced the victim to share the onetime code a bank sends its customers when they need to reset their password. Then defendants drained the victim’s account and moved the money to where they could use it for their own purposes. The defendants, operating out of Miami, Florida, targeted victims around the U.S. in this fashion, including customers of United Federal Credit Union in St. Joseph, Michigan. Total losses are estimated at $1,400,000.
U.S. Attorney Mark Totten stated he was pleased with the convictions and sentences. “Online thieves like these think they will never be caught because they can hide on the internet. They are wrong. We have the tools to identify and hunt them down, even if they committed their crimes from hundreds of miles away. And that is what we will do.”
“These defendants may have thought they were beyond the reach of law enforcement because their crimes were committed entirely online,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “They were sorely mistaken. The FBI treats these types of financial crimes very seriously and we will use our considerable resources to bring cybercriminals to justice.”
This case was investigated by the St. Joseph office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy VerHey.