Seven members and associates of a Charlotte hip-hop group known as the “FreeBandz Gang” (no affiliation to Future) have been indicted in a $1.2 million fraud scheme.
Prosecutors said the defendants financed their lavish lifestyles by defrauding banks through a check-cashing scheme from February 2014 to September 2017.
They allegedly deposited fake or stolen checks into “straw” bank accounts, then quickly withdrew the cash before the banks could finish clearing the checks. In some instances, they paid people to open new bank accounts or use their existing accounts to carry out the fraud.
The indictment also accuses the individuals of using the internet to steal personal information to create fake IDs that they used to obtain credit, car loans, apartments and cell phones, which were resold for profit.
According to a DOJ press release, James Murray Willingham Jr., 23, Damonte Withers, 27, Deandre Howze, 23, Jeffrey Monteith, 22, Quadarius Thomas, 23, Laerek Williams, 25, and Nemiah Davis, 25, all of Charlotte, are charge with multiple counts of conspiracy, bank fraud and wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
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