Baltimore, Maryland – Boaz Salmon Bratton-Bey, age 37, of Owings Mills, Maryland, pleaded guilty late yesterday to federal bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges, as well as to committing those crimes while on supervised release for a previous federal conviction for a similar scheme.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division.
According to his guilty plea, Bratton-Bey and his co-conspirators committed numerous acts of bank fraud using the stolen personal identifying information (“PII”) of individual victims, without the victims’ knowledge or permission.
Specifically, on June 5, 2019, Bratton-Bey and his co-conspirators executed an “instant credit” scheme in which a co-conspirator, Terrell Meadows, used a fictitious driver’s license bearing the image of Meadows and the personal information of an individual victim to obtain a store credit card at a home improvement store. The credit application contained the name, date of birth, Social Security Number, and other personally identifying information (PII) of a real person who did not consent to the use of his PII. The credit application was approved and a credit card with a $12,000 line of credit was issued in temporary form instantaneously. Transaction records indicate that on June 5 and June 6, 2019, the account was used to make a total of four purchases at four different store locations. The purchases totaled $5,988.14. Bratton-Bey and Meadows used a U-Haul truck to load and carry away the fraudulently obtained goods. That U-Haul truck bore an equipment number on its front bumper, which was captured by store surveillance cameras.
As detailed in the plea agreement, approximately one month later a U-Haul representative contacted Baltimore County Police to report that the U-Haul truck was stolen because Bratton-Bey had stopped paying for the truck and had not returned it. The truck was located and Baltimore County Police officers conducted a traffic stop, briefing detaining the driver, who was Bratton-Bey. From Bratton-Bey’s pocket, officers retrieved at least 14 credit cards, which featured at least 14 different names of real persons on them. Bratton-Bey’s own name was not on any of these credit cards, though officers were able to identify Bratton-Bey using his real identification, which he produced for them.
Following the seizure of those credit cards, investigators obtained bank records from financial institutions which showed that these cards had been used to commit fraudulent transactions, totaling at least $6,822.03 in actual fraud and at least $1,046.85 in attempted fraud. Additionally, these bank records and surveillance images showed that Bratton-Bey had used at least three of these cards personally for ATM withdrawals. Investigators obtained records from U-Haul regarding the rental of the truck. These records showed that Bratton-Bey had rented the truck using his real name, address, and telephone number. However, Bratton-Bey had paid for the rental of the U-Haul truck using fraudulent credit cards issued to real persons. Bratton-Bey paid a total of $4,039.91 to rent the U-Haul truck through fraudulent transfers and attempted to pay an additional $743.94 using fraudulently obtained funds from one of the credit cards issued in another real person’s name. The total loss amount from the U-Haul rental and the cards recovered from Bratton-Bey following the traffic stop was $12,652.73.
On July 25, 2019, investigators executed a search warrant at Bratton-Bey’s apartment. Law enforcement located counterfeit identification documents bearing photographs of Bratton-Bey and other individuals, credit/debit cards issued to individuals or entities other than Bratton-Bey, mail and financial correspondence addressed to individuals other than Bratton-Bey, and several cell phones and other electronic devices. Investigators recovered at least 12 credit/debit cards issued to individuals other than Bratton-Bey. Investigators also found Bratton-Bey’s real driver’s license, along with a fictitious driver’s license that included Bratton-Bey’s picture and his alias, “Boa Salmon” and a fictitious social security card for the “Boa Salmon” alias. The items recovered from Bratton-Bey’s apartment also included four other counterfeit identifications in the form of fictitious driver’s licenses bearing the PII of real victims, including counterfeit driver’s licenses for Pennsylvania and New York, in addition to Maryland. The total loss amount from the accounts related to the cards recovered from Bratton-Bey’s apartment was $40,222.30.
Bratton-Bey was previously convicted in U.S. District Court in Maryland for bank fraud conspiracy, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. For that case, he was sentenced to 102 months in federal prison in July 2012.
Bratton-Bey faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for bank fraud conspiracy; and a mandatory two years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for Bratton-Bey on March 5, 2021, at 1:00 p.m.
Terrell Meadows, age 32, of Rosedale, Maryland, pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy for his role in the scheme on November 5, 2020. Judge Russell has scheduled sentencing for Meadows on March 12, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the Baltimore County Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel A. Loveland, Jr. and Tamera Fine, who are prosecuting the case.
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