Authorities in Orange County, California have arrested a man in connection with the incident. Meschach Samuels of Placentia has been charged with promoting a scheme on Instagram that was worth an alleged $1.2 million. Further charges are set to follow.
Uncovering a massive scheme on social media
Instagram and other social media networks have been the venue for many fraud initiatives over the years. However, the latest case has been particularly shocking to authorities because Samuels offered advice on committing check fraud to followers of his social media pages in return for a fee.
People who responded to Samuels’ advertisements found themselves invited to a chat group on Telegram. From there, he would deliver his pitch. If they decided to pay for this advice, they were charged fees that sometimes amounted to thousands of dollars. He counseled paying participants via chat on how to recruit accomplices to commit check fraud at banks.
Samuels faces 30 years for criminal actions
Check cashing fraud is one of the most common types that authorities encounter across the country. As a result of his actions, Samuels is now facing the prospect of up to 30 years in federal prison. He is also facing an additional 10 years for several counts of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
State authorities allege that Samuels formed a crime ring with several accomplices. Once in place, the ring allegedly dealt with a bank teller and other sources of illegal financial information. The scheme involved depositing fraudulent checks into third-party accounts. They would then withdraw the cash in amounts under $10,000 to avoid bank alerts.
While the ring attempted to defraud banks of up to $1.2 million, they only succeeded in causing actual losses of about $400,000. However, Samuels has also recently confessed to his involvement in a scheme to steal $14,250 from the California Employment Development Department. These and other related charges are pending in courts across the state.