jury finds defendant guilty of multi-state mother-son fraud scheme | USAO-SC

FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA —Quinae Shamyra Stephens, 41, of Douglasville, Georgia, was found guilty following a jury trial in federal court on multiple charges related to a multi-state identity theft and fraud ring that she was running with her son, who had previously pleaded guilty to a wire and bank fraud conspiracy. Stephens’ trial marked the first federal criminal jury trial in the Pee Dee area since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Identity theft is a crime that affects all Americans and can claim lifelong victims. This office will vigorously pursue criminals who steal from taxpayers who work hard to line their pockets,” said U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis: “Stephens enlisted his son in a sophisticated scheme that involved using the dark web, among other resources, to steal the identities and credit card information of scores of people across the country. Stephens, who has had at least two felony convictions, carried out part of his scheme from a stolen van and while carrying a loaded gun. I appreciate the quick work of our local partners with the Latta Police Department and the thorough investigative work of the US Secret Service. This business would not have been possible without them.

“The primary investigative mission of the United States Secret Service is to protect the financial infrastructure of the United States by investigating complex, often cyber-enabled financial crimes,” said John Hirt, Special Agent in Charge of the Columbia Field Office. for American secrecy. A service. “The Secret Service is also home to expert forensic analysts who utilize advanced investigative and technological capabilities in support of this integrated mission with our law enforcement partners. This case is a prime example of the success teamwork between the Latta Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Secret Service, using our combined expertise to bring criminals to justice for committing a variety of complex financial crimes that are the subject of the secret service investigative work.

“On behalf of the Latta Police Department and the citizens of our city, we extend our sincere thanks to our federal partners in this sentencing,” said Latta Police Department Chief Josh Holt. “Financial crimes span all demographics and identity theft affects so many victims who don’t know it. Even in a small town like ours, crime doesn’t pay.

Evidence presented by the government at trial established that Stephens and his son, Deandre Copes, 23, also of Douglasville, were traveling from New Jersey to Florida in a stolen rental van when they came to the attention of law enforcement officers. law enforcement in Latta because they were going back and forth from a bank to a local retail store. A search of the van eventually revealed more than a dozen identification documents, including several with Stephens’ photo under different names, a device to re-encode credit cards with different account information and more than 25 debit cards and credit, most in the name of persons other than Stephens or his son.

Further forensic investigation by the Secret Service revealed that Stephens was downloading dark web teaching materials related to credit card fraud and identity theft, and using dark web software to obtain information. personally identifiable. The laptop also contained educational materials and files that could be used to create fake banking websites to steal account information.

Evidence also showed Stephens possessed a loaded semi-automatic handgun. Stephens is prohibited from possessing a firearm and ammunition based on at least two prior Georgia felony convictions.

More than 120 exhibits were filed during the trial and more than a dozen witnesses and victims traveled from California, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to testify. The jury ultimately convicted Stephens on all six counts against her, including conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, credit card fraud, identity theft, aggravated identity theft, interstate transportation of a stolen and criminal vehicle in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

United States District Judge Sherri A. Lydon presided over the trial and will sentence Stephens and her son after receiving and reviewing pre-sentence reports prepared by the United States Probation Office. Stephens and his son each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison and a fine of $1,000,000 for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Stephens also faces a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence for aggravated identity theft.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Latta Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Derek A. Shoemake and Everett McMillian prosecuted the case.

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