Kevin Singleton-Lee, Jerome Simpson, and Daniel Green Issued Over $175,000 in Fraudulent Checks as Part of a Scheme to Defraud Account Holders and Small Regional Credit Unions.
Utica, NY - December 5, 2017 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the convictions of Kevin Singleton-Lee (a/k/a Kev Escobar), Jerome Simpson, and Daniel Green for their roles in a check-kiting scheme that spanned Onondaga, Schenectady, and Oneida Counties. A joint investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Police uncovered that ringleaders Singleton-Lee and Simpson, with the aid of Green, issued over $175,000 in fraudulent checks and used social media to recruit financially vulnerable individuals to cash the fake checks using their personal accounts, before emptying these accounts of all their assets.
"We have zero tolerance for those who exploit financially vulnerable New Yorkers for their personal gain," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring fraudsters to justice and protect consumers from falling victim to these scams."
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “These convictions demonstrate that people who take advantage of vulnerable individuals and our financial institutions will be held accountable for their actions. I want to thank our partners at the Attorney General’s Office for their work to bring this case to a close and effort to help recover the funds that were taken.”
Between December 2015 and August 2017, Singleton-Lee, Simpson, and Green targeted over a dozen different branches of small, local or regional credit unions and banks throughout Central New York and the Capital Region, and recruited over 50 account holders to assist in their check-kiting scheme. During the almost two-year period, the defendants presented and cashed over 100 fraudulent checks, ranging in amounts from several hundred to several thousand dollars—totaling over $175,000.
To perpetuate their scheme, Singleton-Lee and Simpson first arranged for the creation of bank accounts in the names of businesses, which were often fictitious, including “Jones Maintenance” and “Watkins Homecare.” Then, Singleton-Lee, Simpson, and Green—relying heavily on Facebook and other social media outlets—targeted numerous college students, young single parents, and other vulnerable and unsuspecting young adults, and recruited them to cash forged checks in the name of those businesses. In exchange for either cashing the forged checks or depositing them into their personal accounts, the account owners were promised a portion of the check proceeds as a fee.
After the checks were deposited and funds became available, Singleton-Lee, Simpson, and Green drained the accounts of the available balances before the checks were returned and the financial institutions discovered them to be worthless. In some instances, the defendants even assumed the identities of the account holders without their knowledge and consent, accessed their accounts using personal information the defendants required for asserted security purposes, and withdrew funds through ATM transactions.
Ringleader Singleton-Lee was charged separately in Onondaga and Oneida Counties. On November 4, 2016, Singleton-Lee pleaded guilty before the Honorable Anthony F. Aloi in Onondaga County to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and one count of Identity Theft in the First Degree, all Class D felonies. On November 17, 2017, Singleton-Lee was sentenced by the Honorable Matthew J. Doran to 4 2/3 to 14 years in state prison, which consisted of consecutive terms of 2 1/3 to 7 years for his convictions for Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and a concurrent term of 1 to 3 years for his conviction for Identity Theft in the First Degree. Singleton-Lee was ordered to pay $100,000 as imposed by confessions of judgment.
Today, Singleton-Lee pleaded guilty in Oneida County Court to one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a Class E felony, before the Honorable Robert L. Bauer. On February 6, 2018, Singleton-Lee will be sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison to run consecutive to his Onondaga County sentence, for a combined sentence of 6 to 18 years in state prison. Singleton-Lee will also be ordered to pay $26,874.27, as imposed by confessions of judgment.
Simpson was previously convicted of one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree in Schenectady County Court. On November 20, 2017, Simpson was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison by the Honorable Louise K. Sira and was ordered to repay $47,880.64 as imposed by confessions of judgment.
Green was previously convicted of one count of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class E felony, in Onondaga County Court before the Honorable Anthony F. Aloi. On October 3, 2017, Green was sentenced by the Honorable Matthew J. Doran to time served and four years’ probation, and ordered to repay $9,900 as imposed by confessions of judgment.
The Office of the Attorney General thanks the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit and Financial Crimes Unit, the Schenectady Police Department, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, and the Utica Police Department for their invaluable assistance on this case.
The criminal cases against Singleton-Lee, Simpson, and Green are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General John R. Healy and Andrew J. Tarkowski of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett.
The Attorney General’s investigation was conducted by Investigator Joel Cordone under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle and Deputy Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. Forensic accounting was performed by former Associate Auditor Matthew Croghan under the supervision of Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Chief Auditor Edward J. Keegan.