Crime, Police/Fire

Former bank employee convicted after fraudulently opening bank accounts in Maryland

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UPDATE: Daniel Velcru has been sentenced to prison.

Original story below…

GREENBELT, MD—A Maryland man has been convicted on fraud charges after fraudulent opening bank accounts.

A federal jury has convicted Diape Seck, 29, of Rockville, for his role in a bank fraud scheme in which he and his co-conspirators obtained or attempted to obtain almost $2 million by fraud, including by stealing checks from the mail of churches and religious institutions. The guilty verdict was returned late on February 24, 2023.

The guilty verdict was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland; Postal Inspector in Charge Damon E. Wood of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Acting Special Agent in Charge Mike Serra of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG); Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; Chief Terry Sult of the Cary, North Carolina, Police Department; and Sheriff Dusty Rhoades of the Williamson County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office.

According to the evidence presented at his eight-day trial, from at least January 2019 to January 2020, Seck, a customer service representative with “Bank A,” conspired with Mateus Vaduva, Marius Vaduva, Vlad Baceanu, Nicolae Gindac, Florin Vaduva, Marian Unguru, Daniel Velcu, Vali Unguru, and others to commit bank fraud.

The evidence showed that Seck fraudulently opened bank accounts in fake identities in exchange for cash bribes. Co-conspirators engaged in fraud that included fraud involving rental cars and the deposit of checks stolen from the incoming and outgoing mail of churches and other religious institutions, into the fraudulently opened bank accounts. The co-conspirators then withdrew the funds and spent the fraudulently obtained proceeds.

As detailed in the trial evidence, Diape Seck facilitated the opening of hundreds of bank accounts at Bank A for his co-conspirators, who used purported foreign identity documents, often but not universally Romanian, to fraudulently open bank accounts with him at Bank A, as well as bank accounts at other victim financial institutions. Seck opened accounts for co-conspirators without their presence in the bank, without verifying identity information, and opened accounts for co-conspirators who opened multiple accounts at a time under different identities. To conceal his improper activities, Seck opened accounts for the co-conspirators at the same time he conducted legitimate bank activities. The co-conspirators paid Seck cash in exchange for him opening the fraudulent bank accounts.

According to court documents and witness testimony, Seck violated numerous bank policies in opening approximately 412 checking accounts in a one-year period from approximately January 2, 2019 through January 3, 2020, relying predominantly on purported Romanian passports and driver’s license information. Checks payable to and written from churches and other religious institutions from around the country were deposited into many of the 412 checking accounts which were not opened in the names of the churches.

The co-conspirators fraudulently negotiated the stolen checks by depositing them into the victim bank accounts, including the fraudulent accounts opened by Seck at Bank A, often by way of automated teller machine (ATM) transactions. After depositing the stolen checks into the bank accounts, the conspirators made cash withdrawals from ATMs and purchases using debit cards associated with the bank accounts.

Co-conspirators Vlad Baceanu, age 38; Daniel Velcu, age 43; Marian Unguru, age 36; and Vali Unguru, age 20, all of Baltimore, previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. Nicolae Gindac, age 52, of Dania Beach, Florida was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1,096,660.11; Mateus Vaduva, age 29, of Baltimore was sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1,320,885.84; Florin Vaduva, age 31, of Dania Beach, Florida was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1,096,660.11; and Marius Vaduva, age 28, of Baltimore was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1,334,230.84, after they previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.

Seck faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud; bank fraud; making false entries in bank records; and receipt of a bribe or reward by a bank employee. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for Seck on June 2, 2023, at 2:30 p.m.

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