SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jeffrey Kim, 51, of Colorado, pleaded guilty today to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between February 1, 2017 and July 24, 2017, Kim participated in a nationwide check bust out program to obtain money from banks. Participants in the program obtained a genuine Republic of Korea passport that was altered to bear a new photograph and name, which they used to open bank accounts with a small amount of money. Accounts were dormant until participants believed the bank would allow the account holder to deposit a check and make withdrawals before the check was actually cashed. At that time, participants issued checks from a different bank account with insufficient funds, deposited those checks into the dormant account, and then withdrew money from the dormant account before the checks cleared. compensated. Participants accessed the funds by purchasing a money order and then depositing the money order into another bank account associated with the program.
As part of this scheme, on February 16, 2017, a participant opened an account at a BMO Harris branch in Arizona using a forged Korean passport. Thirty-six checks were written to the account, all of which eventually bounced for insufficient funds. Another participant opened a Wells Fargo checking account in Arizona, using another forged Korean passport. Kim participated in the dismantling of this account. Seven times on May 25 and 26, 2017, Kim deposited checks from the BMO Harris account on Wells Fargo at branches in Orangevale, Roseville, and Sacramento. Kim then made cash withdrawals of between $800 and $1,900, or requested cash back when depositing the checks.
Additionally, on May 26, 2017, Kim purchased a $995 money order from the Carmichael Post Office, using a debit card connected to one of Wells Fargo’s withdrawal accounts. Three days later, another participant deposited the money order in another Wells Fargo account. The money order funds were used to give the bank account the appearance of legitimacy until that account was eventually “busted” as part of the scheme.
On May 24, 2017, Kim obtained a fraudulent Korean passport with Kim’s photo, but another person’s name and social security card, which he used to open a private mailbox in Granite Bay and a bank account at the El Dorado Savings Bank in Folson. On the El Dorado Savings Bank checking account, approximately 67 checks were presented for payment ranging from $992 to $2,998 for a total of $313,796. All checks were returned because there was only $100 in the account to cover the checks.
Kim’s withdrawal activity resulted in an actual loss to the banks of $196,058 and an expected loss of $380,429 based on unsuccessful withdrawal attempts.
Kim is the second defendant to plead guilty in the case. Kyung Min Kong pleaded guilty on February 10, 2022 and is expected to be sentenced on August 25, 2022. Charges are pending against Ki Jang, Il Chung, Hee Soung Oh, Bon Soke Hong and Jong Eun Lee, who were all charged on October 21. 2021. The charges against them are only allegations; they are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the product of an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey B. Hemesath is prosecuting the case.
Kim is expected to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley on October 6, 2022. Kim faces a maximum legal sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for bank fraud and a mandatory consecutive sentence. two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for aggravated identity theft. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of all applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.