Fourteen people from South Florida have been charged in connection to a bank fraud ring in which the accounts of unsuspecting customers were accessed to transfer money.
The defendants range in age from 23 to 53 and hail from either Miami or Hialeah, according to a U.S. attorney's office in Miami news release on Thursday. The alleged ringleader, Ibrahin Elias, 24, of Hialeah was charged with 16 counts of substantive bank fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and destruction of evidence.
"Once Elias had control of an account, [he] transferred funds to accomplices, who made their own accounts available to receive the stolen money," the news release said. "Elias also ordered checks which were used to drain victims' accounts."
The other defendants are charged with receiving the stolen funds, cashing stolen checks, or recruiting others to participate in the racket.
Each defendant charged with conspiracy and bank fraud face up to 30 years in prison.
It is unclear how Elias obtained the credentials, including names, Social Security numbers, and birth dates, which were used to access victims' accounts. A U.S. attorney's spokesperson could not immediately be reached on Monday.