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Placentia Man Gets Over 7 Years in Prison for Check Fraud Scheme

Placentia Man Gets Over 7 Years in Prison for Check Fraud Scheme

This illustration picture shows debit and credit cards arranged on a desk in Arlington, Va. on April 6, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

10/24/2023

Updated: 10/24/2023

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SANTA ANA, Calif.—A 26-year-old Placentia man was sentenced Oct. 23 to more than seven years in federal prison for a social media check fraud scheme that led to more than $400,000 in losses.
Meshach Samuels pleaded guilty May 25 to a count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of being a felon in possession of weapons.
Beyond the 90-month prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney also ordered Mr. Samuels to pay $423,087 in restitution.
Mr. Samuels charged fees to his social media followers for tips on how to recruit others to help them use a check fraud scheme to steal from banks, prosecutors said.
Mr. Samuels and others ran the scheme involving stolen personal identifying information and depositing phony checks into third-party accounts from May 2021 through March 2022, prosecutors said.
Once the money from the bogus checks was registered in a bank account, Mr. Samuels and others would take out the cash in amounts lower than $10,000 so they could avoid activity security safeguards, prosecutors said.
The scheme sought about $1.2 million, but led to losses of at least $423,087, prosecutors said.
Mr. Samuels was also involved during the pandemic in a scheme to steal about $14,250 in state unemployment benefits using the identities of the deceased or others not eligible for benefits, according to prosecutors.
He has a criminal history that includes aggravated battery on a police officer in Florida with an enhancement for attempted murder, prosecutors said. During an August 2021 traffic stop in Costa Mesa officers recovered a gun and ammunition on him, prosecutors said.
When federal agents searched Mr. Samuels’s home in March 2022 they found five guns and ammunition, prosecutors said.
Sasha Lizette Jimenez, 26, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend, pleaded guilty May 22 in a related case to the state unemployment insurance fraud scheme, prosecutors said. Ms. Jimenez, who kept the books for the scheme, caused at least $2.8 million in fraudulent unemployment benefit debit cards to be issued and at least $2.3 million was taken from them, prosecutors said. She is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 4.
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