Kevin Lee And Daniel Green Allegedly Cashed Over $100,000 In Fraudulent Checks As Part Of A Scheme To Defraud Account Holders And Local Credit Unions
Defendants Face A Maximum Of 10 To 20 Years In State Prison If Convicted
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the arraignment today of Kevin Lee (aka Kev Escobar) and Daniel Green (aka Lance Gambino) on a 19-count indictment charging them with issuing over $100,000 in fraudulent checks written in the name of a fictitious business as part of a scheme to defraud vulnerable account holders and small financial institutions. Lee and Green are accused of convincing vulnerable individuals, many of whom were contacted over Facebook and other social media outlets, to deposit forged checks into their personal checking accounts. Lee and Green then allegedly drained the accounts of the available balances before the checks were returned and the financial institutions discovered them to be worthless. The defendants are charged in Onondaga County Supreme Court with Grand Larceny, Forgery, and Identity Theft, among other charges. The defendants face a maximum of 10 to 20 years in state prison.
“These defendants allegedly attempted to line their own pockets by preying on vulnerable New Yorkers who were looking for an extra financial boost,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office has zero tolerance for those who commit identity theft and seek to exploit local financial institutions that ordinary consumers rely on for stability.”
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “These suspects are accused of using a devious scheme to victimize vulnerable people for their own gain. I commend the Attorney General and our Special Investigations Unit in Syracuse for their work on this case. It’s because of our strong partnership that we were able to bring charges and seek to hold these two suspects accountable for their alleged crimes.”
According to statements made by prosecutors in court today, Lee created phony bank accounts in the name of Jones Maintenance, a fictitious business in which Lee claimed to have an interest. Thereafter, Lee and Green, relying heavily on Facebook and other social media outlets, allegedly targeted numerous financially vulnerable individuals—college students, young single parents, and other indigent, disadvantaged, and unwary young adults—to whom they issued forged checks in the name of that company. In exchange for depositing these forged checks in their accounts, the account owners were promised a portion of the check as a fee. After the checks were deposited and the funds cleared and became available, the defendants allegedly withdrew the money for their own personal use. In some instances, the defendants are accused of assuming the identities of the account holders, accessing their accounts, and withdrawing funds through ATM transactions using personal information the account holders had been required to provide for asserted security purposes. As a result, the targeted financial institutions targeted were forced to devote resources to compensate account holders for the phony checks and fraudulently withdrawn funds.
Also according to prosecutors, between December of 2015 to May of 2016 alone, Lee and Green issued over $100,000 in fraudulent checks pursuant to this alleged scheme, primarily targeting small, local or regional credit unions and banks.
The Attorney General’s indictment charges Kevin Lee with three counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class D felony), three counts of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class E felony), one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth degree (a class E felony), six counts of Forgery or Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (class D felonies), one count of Identity Theft in the First Degree (a class D felony), one count of Identity Theft in the Second Degree (a class E felony), one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class E felony), and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony). Daniel Green is charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, one count of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, two counts of Forgery in the Second Degree and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.
Lee, 26, of Clay, and Green, 20, of Syracuse, were arraigned today in Onondaga County Court before the Honorable Judge Aloi; Lee is currently being held without bail, and Green is currently being held on $150,000 bond over $75,000 cash bail.
The charges against the defendants are allegations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The Office of the Attorney General is continuing to investigate the alleged operation of this check cashing ring in other counties across the state, including Westchester, Rensselaer, Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Oneida, Broome, and Oswego counties.
The Office of the Attorney General thanks the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit – Syracuse and the Financial Crimes Unit for their invaluable assistance on this case.
The charges against the defendant are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.