NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that CHRISTOPHER WATSON, age 29, of Harvey was sentenced on August 11, 2020 to 57 months imprisonment before U.S. District Judge Wendy Vitter for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343, 1344, and 371, and aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. The sentence imposed by Judge Vitter reflects a sentence of 33 months for the conspiracy conviction in addition to 24 months on the aggravated identity theft conviction, to run consecutively.
WATSON admitted to an elaborate fraud scheme involving use of stolen or fraudulent identities to obtain vehicle financing. WATSON, who previously worked as a used car salesman, submitted numerous fraudulent loan applications to financial institutions and automobile lenders, sometimes using the personal identifying information of his customers without their authorization and other times using stolen identities. Throughout the course of the conspiracy, WATSON used either unauthorized or counterfeit information in order to defraud financial institutions and lenders, including USAA Financial, an FDIC-insured financial institution, Westlake Financial Services, and United Auto Credit Corporation, among other victims. WATSON admitted to using the identity of a USAA member to submit a fraudulent auto loan application to USAA Financial. In some instances, WATSON utilized the dealer license numbers and names of different legitimate car dealerships and forged their names as sellers of the vehicles on the fraudulent loan applications.
Pursuant to the plea agreement, WATSON has agreed to pay restitution of $433,949.49 to the victims of his fraud scheme, consistent with the loss amount in this matter. Judge Vitter also imposed a supervised release term of two years following WATSON’s release from prison.
U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser praised the work of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the United States Secret Service Financial Crimes Taskforce in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Shirin Hakimzadeh is in charge of the prosecution.