On October 2, 2020 Jamel Johnson, 30, pleaded guilty in Charlotte, NC to federal charges for his role in two separate schemes involving identity theft. Justin Parks, 31, also pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft in a $1 million bank fraud scheme.
Jamel was initially indicted on June 19, 2020, on bank and wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges along with Justin for his involvement in a scheme to obtain $1 million in fraudulent bank loans using stolen personal information of identity theft victims.
On September 25, 2020, new federal wire fraud charges were filed against Jamel for using stolen identities to file for and receive COVID-19 unemployment insurance benefits.
According to filed court documents and statements made at Jamel’s plea hearing, from August 2019 to June 2020, Jamel and Justin engaged in a bank loan scheme involving the use of stolen personal identifying information of identity theft victims. After acquiring the victims’ stolen identities on the internet and elsewhere, the co-conspirators used them to attempt to obtain more than $1,000,000 in fraudulent bank loans and goods.
Over the course of the investigation into the bank loan scheme, law enforcement discovered that Jamel was also executing a separate scheme involving COVID-19 unemployment insurance benefits. In this scheme, from May 21, 2020 through July 22, 2020, Jamel defrauded the U.S. Department of Labor, the State of Wisconsin, and the State of Arizona, by submitting fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits in the names of identity theft victims.
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During the relevant time-period, Jamel fraudulently obtained more than $189,912 in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits using the compromised identities of approximately 70 victims. Jamel directed that payments of the fraudulent benefits be made to Green Dot cards, or to bank accounts under his control.
Jamel is currently on release pending sentencing. The charge of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a $1 million fine.
The aggravated identity theft charge carries a minimum prison term of two years, consecutive to any other prison term imposed, and a $250,000 fine.
The wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
A sentencing date for Jamel and Justin has not been set as of October 2, 2020.