North Carolina man sentenced to 11 years in prison for mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft

Published 8:12 am Thursday, February 17, 2022

A Raleigh man was sentenced Thursday, February 3, 2022 to 132 months in prison for 11 counts of mail fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina. Furman Alexander Ford, 52, was convicted of the charges on March 10, 2021.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Ford was a New York Life (NYL) financial advisor who was advising a 72-year-old client who had recently inherited real property valued at $1.3 million.

“Ford assisted in the sale of the property and the setting-up of a charitable annuity trust with NYL using the sale proceeds,” stated the release. “Ford worked as an insurance and financial agent at NYL, and the victim was his primary client while employed at NYL. As part of Ford’s responsibility as the victim’s financial agent, he drafted and submitted letters of withdrawal from the client’s annuity account to pay for certain expenses. The funds would then be electronically wired to the recipient as directed by the client with their full knowledge and consent.”

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During the investigation, agents identified 20 separate fraudulent letters of withdrawal drafted by Ford and submitted to NYL headquarters in New York, NY on behalf of the client, stated the release.

“The letters were all mailed by Ford from his office in Raleigh. The funds requested ranged from $5,000 to $45,000 and totaled over $376,000. The proceeds were then electronically wired by NYL to Ford’s personal checking account,” stated the release. “An FBI financial analysis traced the funds to the purchase by Ford of various personal items, including a BMW vehicle, Rolex watches, firearms, child support, and a cruise to the Bahamas. On December 29, 2014, Ford withdrew an additional $1 million from his client’s annuity account. In total, Ford stole over $1.3 million from the elderly victim.”

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The United States Postal Inspectors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan A. Ontjes and former Special Assistant United States Attorney Tamika Moses prosecuted.