A couple who crisscrossed the country and stole $173,900 from the bank accounts of strangers by impersonating them using stolen identification have been sentenced to federal prison.
Darrell Prince, 60, and co-defendant Kimberly Jones, 57, both of California, hit banks in at least 10 states, including Oregon and Washington, according to prosecutors.
Prince pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and was sentenced Thursday to six years and three months in prison. Jones, who was sentenced in April, received three years and six months.
They would obtain fake driver’s licenses with victim information, as well as bank-account numbers, transaction histories, dates of birth and other personal profile information of account holders. Prince, sometimes accompanied by Jones, then would go into a bank branch, pass himself off as an account holder and try to withdraw cash from the account.
The two successfully withdrew $144,600 from Bank of America and $29,300 from Wells Fargo, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Quinn Harrington.
Eventually, one of the banks caught on to the scheme and alerted police when Prince tried to withdraw cash in Vancouver, Washington, in the summer of 2018.
On July 17, 2018, Prince flew from Los Angeles to Portland. He and his co-defendant checked into a hotel in Portland and then hit several banks, according to court documents.
The next day, Prince went to a Wells Fargo bank at 1405 Lloyd Center, where he tried to withdraw $4,500 from someone’s account. He presented a bank-account number and a fake California driver’s license with his photo and the name of the account holder on it.
On July 19, the two were arrested when they tried to withdraw cash from another person’s account at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Vancouver.
Prince was found with six forged California ID cards with other people’s names on them, his and Jones’ photos and numerous pieces of paper filled with names and identifying information of other victims.
In a written statement to the court, one unidentified victim described the “countless hours” spent on the phone trying to resolve the fraud, process new accounts, change every user name and password and replace a driver’s license after discovering two unauthorized withdrawals totaling about $15,000 made from a personal Bank of America savings account.
An investigation is continuing into the source of the stolen identifications.
Prince’s lawyer, Jamie Kilberg, said his client was homeless during most of the last decade before his arrest and his crimes were fueled by a cocaine addiction.
“This is not someone who was rolling in money,” Kilberg said. The money Prince stole cycled back to feed his addiction, Kilberg said.
The prosecutor sought a sentence of eight years and five months for Prince. Kilberg argued for four years.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman acknowledged that Prince was largely driven by his drug use and was a “bit player in a large scheme and profited little from his involvement.”
But the judge said he found Prince’s failures to appear in court and his arrest in California for driving with a suspended license while on pretrial release troubling, showing an “unrelenting” criminal history.
Jones was sentenced in April by U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez.