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Binary data with the word IDENTITY appears in the shadow of a hand. Concept for digital crime. Blue toned image.

People pickpocket packs of gum, pairs of earrings, and other small things from retailers thinking it’s a harmless crime without consequences. Petty theft itself is not to be condoned, but the even larger problem is how easily people escalate from petty theft to full-fledged crimes. In today’s case, a group of men defrauded a string of retailers and committed identity theft along the way.

Frank “Bread” Powell of Indianapolis, Ind. was sentenced for his role in an identity theft fraud scheme that cost retailers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Powell was the ringleader of a scheme that purchased gift cards and merchandise from Kroger and other retailers across the country using fraudulent checks.

Co-conspirators Javonte Wright, Anthony Duerson, and Antionne Brewster were recruited and trained by Powell to cash fraudulent checks at Kroger stores across the country. The checks were issued using over 30 different imaginary names of individuals or businesses such as “Frank Pawell” or “Pawell Child Care LLC.” (These fraudsters aren’t winning any points for creativity.)  

Over 5,000 checks were used and returned to Kroger stores due to the accounts being forged and non-existent. The fraud spanned across 12 states from January 2016 to April 2018. The losses reported by the retailers is estimated to be slightly over $300,000. (It sounds like the fraudsters had a feast at the grocery store chain’s expense.)  

Powell also faces charges related to his use of a fake Illinois driver’s license to defraud a local bank and car dealership. (Why settle for committing one crime when you can dabble in them all?) The fake license contained the name and address of a man Powell stole information from in March 2018. (He tried to use the man’s social security number and information to obtain financing for the purchase of a Cadillac Escalade.)

The scheme was discovered by the dealership during the loan application process. This resulted in Powell attempting to bribe dealership employees into not reporting him by offering them a sofa. (Not with cash, but with a used sofa. He really thought that plan was going to work?) 

Powell was charged with wire fraud, attempted bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and giving false statements to a financial institution. Attempted bank fraud carries a sentence of up to 30 years and each wire fraud charge carries a 20-year sentence.

Powell was not given the maximum instead he was sentenced to a little over 11 years for wire fraud, attempted bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and giving false statements to a financial institution. The judge also sentenced Powell to five years of supervised release after his prison sentence is complete.

His associates were also charged for their roles in the scheme. Wright was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Duerson was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Brewster is awaiting sentencing.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Indianapolis man gets 11-plus years in federal prison for leading fraud scheme,” published by The Indiana Lawyer on July 24, 2020.

Indianapolis man Frank “Bread” Powell has been sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison for leading a large-scale fraud ring that bilked Kroger and other retailers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Thursday said Powell, 29, was given a 134-month sentence after being indicted for wire fraud, attempted bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and giving false statements to a financial institution.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.