Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Brothers in crime, they were. Brothers in prison, they will be

Two brothers pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy, mail fraud, and identity theft charges.

Darrell Clark, 31, of Norfolk, and Demarcus Clark, 26, of Newport News, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Each man faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, along with a mandatory minimum, consecutive penalty of two years in prison.

They will be sentenced on Oct. 25.

According to court documents, the Clarks conspired for more than two years to use stolen identities to apply for and open accounts at banks and retail stores.

The two men created fake IDs, including driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, bearing their victims’ identifying information alongside their own photographs, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Federal prosecutors said the Clarks “used these IDs to impersonate their victims throughout the scheme.”

The pair opened cellphone accounts with various carriers and used those accounts to get multiple cellphones on credit.

The brothers used those cell phones to apply for additional accounts in the victims’ names, including checking, savings, credit, and consumer loan accounts.

“Through these applications, the brothers successfully borrowed thousands of dollars, purportedly to fund high-end vehicle purchases, foreign travel, and extensive home repairs,” prosecutors said in a news release. “The brothers directed lenders, including Navy Federal Credit Union and Langley Federal Credit Union, to mail loan checks to addresses associated with their victims.”

The brothers then intercepted and redirected those shipments. Loan checks in hand, they forged victim signatures and then cashed those at lender branches in Hampton Roads by posing as the borrower and, for vehicle loans, recruiting others to pose as vehicle sellers.

As the scheme progressed, the brothers recruited cellphone carrier employees “to compromise existing business customer accounts by naming the two as authorized account managers.”

The Clarks then used the compromised accounts to place bulk orders for electronic devices, including iPhones, iPads, and Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets.

They sold those devices, along with those obtained in identity theft victims’ names, for cash – the brothers attempted to defraud local financial institutions and retailers of more than $1.5 million, prosecutors said.

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