DURANGO, Colorado – Anthony Ryan Lopez, age 30, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn yesterday to serve 24 months incarceration followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $98,902.76. Lopez pled guilty on June 28, 2018. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Steven Osborne.
According to the information and plea agreement, Lopez and three co-conspirators, a/k/a The Fraud Squad, routinely committed criminal acts in order to unlawfully obtain credit card numbers and personal identifying information and used that information to fraudulently obtain goods or services.
On October 11, 2015, Durango Police officers arrested Lopez and took him to the La Plata County jail.
Throughout October and November of 2015, each inmate at the jail had an inmate account, which they were able to use for expenses incurred in the jail, such as commissary items and phone calls. The jail also permitted inmates to issue checks drawn against their inmate accounts. Lopez learned that non-inmates could deposit money into inmate accounts using an online kiosk. The kiosk permitted users to deposit funds to an inmate’s account using credit card information.
Between October 12, 2015, and November 23, 2015, Lopez conspired and agreed with his co-conspirators to fraudulently enter stolen personal identifying information and stolen credit card information on the kiosk website in order to deposit funds into Defendant Lopez’s inmate account and other inmates’ accounts. In October and November of 2015, the co-conspirators had possession of at least 36 sets of stolen credit card information.
Lopez knew that, when they entered the required information on the kiosk website, the co-conspirators falsely pretended to be the authorized credit card holders with the authority to direct the requested deposits. In 35 successful transactions, the Fraud Squad fraudulently entered stolen credit card information into the kiosk while pretending to be the authorized credit card holder, which caused banks to deposit a total of $98,902.76 into accounts belonging to Lopez and other inmates.
Lopez used the money from his inmate account for his own purposes, such as purchasing commissary items and making phone calls. In coordination with the other members of the Fraud Squad, Lopez also caused checks to be issued against his inmate account with the intent that the money be used for the benefit of himself and the Fraud Squad.
On November 11, 2015, Lopez willfully caused a check to be issued from his inmate account to a co-conspirator in the amount of $16,000. Lopez knew that these funds were from an illegal source. Lopez willfully caused this check to be issued to a co-conspirator to launder the illegal proceeds. In fact, on November 8, 2015, Lopez told a co-conspirator during a recorded jail call that once money was put into Lopez’s inmate account it was “clean and clear” and that no one could get arrested as a result of that money.
“It’s a special kind of person who sees county jail as a business opportunity for victimizing innocent citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “Those special people have proven they qualify for federal prison.”
“Identity theft is a contemptible modern-day menace,” said Steven Osborne, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge. “Law enforcement officers respond to it with every legal resource available. Let this sentence serve as a warning to those who are considering similar conduct.”
This case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Pegeen D. Rhyne and Jeffrey Graves.
SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on Thursday, October 11, 2018.