By Jason A. Smith
A Henry County woman is one of three suspects indicted in federal court this week, in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud bank customers.
Yolanda Denise Scott, 31, of Hampton, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, along with Schnikia Scruggs, 57, of Duluth, and 57-year-old, Germaine Monroe, of Atlanta.
Scott and Scruggs were also indicted on four counts each of aggravated identity theft, while Monroe was indicted on two counts of that charge.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta released a written statement on the allegations Friday. Prosecutors believe Scott, while working in the Exceptions Department of the Wachovia Bank in Atlanta, gave sensitive information to Scruggs in 2007.
"Over a period of several months ..., Scott allegedly provided Wachovia bank routing and customer account information to Scruggs, who was an acquaintance and did not work for the bank," the statement said.
"Scruggs, allegedly, electronically transferred thousands of dollars from the accounts to her PayPal account and bank accounts in her name, and paid utility bills and retail accounts online with the account funds."
Prosecutors said Scruggs then gave account information to Monroe, who allegedly transferred funds into a PayPal account and paid bills electronically, using the accounts.
Scott and Monroe have already made their initial appearances in court on the charges against them. Scruggs is scheduled to appear before a U.S. Magistrate judge Aug. 14.
U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias is quoted in the press release about the charges as saying that Scott "abused the trust placed in her by the bank and its customers" through her alleged actions. "Some of the victims whose accounts were plundered were minor children with trust accounts," he said. "Identity theft can ruin lives, and we are committed to pursuing and prosecuting those whose greed victimizes both honest citizens and the financial institutions entrusted with their income and assets."
Jeffrey T. Gilbert, the Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service Atlanta Field Office, said, in the press release, that prosecuting the defendants is part of an "aggressive approach" toward preventing and investigating cases of identity theft and bank fraud.
"As an investigative priority, we strive to maintain the safety, public trust and integrity of our banking system," said Gilbert. "This case demonstrates both the wide-reaching effects of bank fraud, its impact on innocent victims, and the importance of cooperation among our law enforcement partners."
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000, for each of the three defendants. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence of two years, which would be served consecutively to the conspiracy charge, according to the press release.