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Multiple defendants plead guilty to charges in connection with identity fraud ring

Eight defendants pleaded guilty July 1 to offenses contained in a 50-count, 2nd Superseding Indictment charging various forms of bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, making false statements to a bank on loan, aggravated identity theft and perjury, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina. Two additional defendants previously pleaded guilty in connection with the same scheme.

The indictment charges that defendant Michael Griffin, operating from his business location in Raleigh and home in Knightdale, accepted fees from clients for alleged credit repair services when he was, in reality, creating fictitious credit profiles and fraudulently altering client credit data through the use of fictitious police reports, stated the release.

The indictment further charges that various defendants, many of whom were family, conspired with Griffin to defraud Synchrony Bank, a Lowe’s credit card provider, by opening credit accounts in the name of fraudulent identities, cashing out the accounts through prepaid card purchases and then defaulting on the credit accounts. The indictment also charges various defendants with similar frauds against other banks, including Capital One and Discover.

Regina Griffin (Michael Griffin’s sister), 49, of Raleigh, pleaded guilty to Count 29 of the 2nd Superseding Indictment, which charged false statement to influence a bank on a loan, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1014.  The offense occurred between February 11, 2019 and March 19, 2019 and involved Alcova Mortgage, LLC, according to the release.

Angela Griffin (Michael Griffin’s wife), 53, of Knightdale, pleaded guilty to Count 13 of the 2nd Superseding Indictment, which charged bank fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2. The offense occurred between November 21, 2017 and December 21, 2017 and involved Synchrony Bank, according to the release.

Creshun Alexandria Griffin (Michael Griffin’s daughter), 27, also of Knightdale, pleaded guilty to Count 16 of the 2nd Superseding Indictment, which charged bank fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2. The offense occurred between August 11, 2017 and December 31, 2018, and involved Capital One Bank, according to the release.

Sharon Annita Edmond (Michael Griffin’s sister), 57, of Raleigh, pleaded guilty to Count 25 of the 2nd Superseding Indictment, which charged wire fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 2. The offense occurred on or about April 16, 2018 and involved Strategic Funding Partners, doing business as Merchant Cash Group, according to the release.

Katina Griffin Perry (Michael Griffin’s sister), 48, of Raleigh, pleaded guilty to Count 27 of the 2nd Superseding Indictment, which charged wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. The offense occurred between August 21, 2017 and September 19, 2017 and involved Kia Motor Finance, according to the release.

Harvey Griffin (Michael Griffin’s brother), 47, of Raleigh, pleaded guilty to Count 11 of the 2nd Superseding Indictment, which charged bank fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2. The offense occurred between October of 2017 and January of 2018 and involved Synchrony Bank, according to the release.

Melvin Griffin (Michael Griffin’s brother), 45, of Knightdale, pleaded guilty to Count 18 of the 2nd Superseding Indictment, which charged bank fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2. The offense occurred between October 5, 2017 and August 31, 2018 and involved Discover Bank, stated the release.

Jasmine Mariah Davis, 29, of Lakeland, Florida, pleaded guilty to Count 12 of the 2nd Superseding Indictment, which charged bank fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2. The offense occurred between October of 2017 and February of 2018 and involved Synchrony Bank, stated the release.

Acting United States Attorney G. Norman Acker III stated, “The charges in this case largely involve the use of a false Social Security Number to obtain money, credit, or other valuables, under a false identity.  Synthetic identity frauds such as these often involve the use of what are referred to as “CPNs” or alternate “credit profile numbers.”  These are nothing but fancy sounding terms for Social Security Numbers that do not belong to you.  The public needs to know that when you place a fraudulent Social Security Number or CPN on a bank credit application or loan document – you are committing a fraud, and you could face federal prison time for it.”

The maximum punishment for committing bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, violations of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 1349, is not more than 30 years in prison.  The maximum punishment for wire fraud, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, is not more than 20 years imprisonment. The maximum punishment for making a false statement to a bank on a loan is not more than 30 years in prison.

Sentencing for each of these defendants are not yet scheduled, but will occur as early as October 2021, according to the release.

Shawn Allen Farmer, 52, of Cary, also named in the 2nd Superseding Indictment, previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2, and making false claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 287. Farmer was sentenced on May 27, 2021 to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $42,783 in restitution.

Tyrone Edmonds47, of Weldon, also named in the 2nd Superseding Indictment, previously pleaded guilty on February 8, 2021 to Count 6, which charged bank fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2. The offense involved Synchrony Bank, according to the release. The sentencing is not yet scheduled, but will also occur as early as October of 2021.

Charges against Michael Griffin, Jasper Deonta Goodman and Coscina Brooks, also named in the 2nd Superseding Indictment, remain pending.

“An indictment is an allegation of a crime,” noted the release. “The defendant is presumed under the law to be innocent until proven guilty.”

Acker made the announcement. The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore represents the United States.

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