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Foreign national sentenced to prison after fraudulently opening bank accounts in Maryland

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GREENBELT, MD—A foreign national has been sentenced to prison after fraudulently opening bank accounts in Maryland.

U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has sentenced Daniel Velcu, 43, of Baltimore, to 34 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. As part of his sentence, Velcu will be required to pay $1,313,499.79 in restitution.

The sentence 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 Michael Serra of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG) Mid-Atlantic Region; 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 his guilty plea, beginning in June 2018 to October 2020, Velcu and his co-conspirators conspired to steal checks from the U.S. mail intended for religious institutions and deposit the illegally obtained funds into multiple fraudulent bank accounts at various victim financial institutions. Conspirators, including Velcu, conducted the thefts by driving to roadside mailboxes of churches and other religious institutions and removing the mail, specifically targeting donation checks.

READ MORE: Former bank employee convicted after fraudulently opening bank accounts in Maryland

As part of the scheme to defraud, Velcu and other co-conspirators fraudulently opened bank accounts at victim financial institutions, often in fictitious names, with the aid of co-conspirator Diape Seck, who was an employee at one of the victim financial institutions. Velcu used false names and accompanying fraudulent identity documents containing his photograph to open accounts and receive ATM cards and account information, in addition to using accounts opened by Seck. Velcu and others deposited stolen checks into the fraudulently opened bank accounts and into bank accounts held in his own or a family member’s identity. Velcu and co-conspirators then withdrew cash from the fraudulent bank accounts through ATMs and spent the illegally obtained proceeds using debit cards associated with the bank accounts.

During the course of the conspiracy, Velcu personally deposited at least 70 stolen checks, totaling at least $40,357.50 and those accounts received at least $48,987.44 from approximately 101 stolen checks. Information found on Velcu’s cellular phone revealed that eight additional accounts in the name of Velcu or a family member received at least $82,872.65 from approximately 145 stolen checks

On October 9, 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Velcu’s residence and storage unit in Baltimore and recovered approximately $87,064 is cash, assorted gold coins and jewelry, all of which are being forfeited as proceeds of the conspiracy. Law enforcement also seized fraudulent French identity documents containing photographs of Velcu and a false name.

Five other conspirators previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and were sentenced to up to five years in federal prison. Former bank employee Seck was convicted after trial. 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.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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