Three sentenced for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud

Published 10:26 am Sunday, March 27, 2022

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Shawn Franklin, 48; Sabrina Wiggins Branch, 39; and Anthony Maryland, 49, were each sentenced February 28, 2022 to terms of imprisonment for conspiring with one another to commit bank and wire fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina.

Franklin, currently residing in Georgia, was sentenced to 126 months in prison for organizing and leading a multi-year conspiracy to defraud financial institutions and lenders of more than one million dollars.

Branch was sentenced to 24 months in prison.

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Maryland to one day followed by eight months of home detention.

All three pleaded guilty to the conspiracy on September 30, 2021. Franklin also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft. All three were ordered to pay restitution and forfeit their fraud proceeds to the United States in the form of money judgements.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, Franklin, Branch and Maryland used synthetic identities to apply for credit and financing.

“Branch and Maryland used their real names coupled with nine-digit-numbers that were not issued to them by the social security administration on credit and loan applications. Franklin also used his real name, variations of his name or his ex-wife’s name coupled with nine-digit-numbers that were never issued or issued to others by the social security administration,” stated the release. “To build the creditworthiness, these illegal synthetic identities, often referred to as ‘CPNs’ or ‘credit privacy numbers,’ were added as authorized users to credit cards belonging to other individuals who have positive credit scores.”

Franklin also used the real names and social security numbers of 10 North Carolina Medicaid recipients to obtain credit cards, consumer loans and vehicle financing, according to the release. He previously had access to the information when he operated Wayne County Day Treatment, a North Carolina Medicaid mental health provider.

“Franklin also rented an apartment in Raleigh in the name of one of the Medicaid recipients without permission. Maryland resided in the apartment,” stated the release. “To rent the apartment and obtain the loans, Franklin provided fictitious NC driver’s licenses in these individuals’ names that bore his image.”

According to the release, Franklin maximized the fraud proceeds on the credit cards by making bogus payments, often by telephone or online, causing banks to reinstate the credit limits. “Before the credit issuer received notification that the payments were bogus, additional charges were incurred, resulting in significant losses.”

The release also stated that “Franklin used the cards to pay many personal expenditures for himself and his family, including his stepdaughter’s tuition to Spelman College and associated living expenses, his other adult daughters’ orthodontist bill and his ex-wife’s dental and plastic surgery procedures.

“To generate cash, Franklin conspired with Branch to charge more than $600,000 on fraudulently obtained credit cards through Branch’s various merchant accounts associated with her retail store in Wilmington’s Independence Mall,” the release continued. “Franklin and Wiggins [Branch] split the proceeds: 85% to Franklin and 15% to Branch. After the merchant account processor deposited the illegal proceeds into a Branch’s bank account, she withdrew Franklin’s share in cash. Branch kept her withdrawals under $10,000 to avoid the filing of a currency transaction report.”

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The United States Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan B. Menzer prosecuted.