DA Vance: Ten Indicted in Scheme to Steal New Yorkers’ Mail And Alter Their Checks


April 10, 2018

Defendants Charged with Over $500,000 in Check Fraud

Postal Inspection Service: “If you steal the mail, you’re going to jail”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. today announced the indictment of ten individuals for stealing more than $500,000 from multiple banks through a check fraud scheme involving mail theft. The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, among other charges. [1]

“U.S. Mail dates back to 1775 but remains a vehicle for complex frauds like identity theft in 2018,” said District Attorney Vance. “As alleged in this case, the defendants stole more than $500,000 from multiple banks as part of an elaborate check fraud scheme that included altering checks stolen at random from the mail. What’s more, the defendants knowingly recruited disadvantaged New Yorkers in desperate need of cash at homeless shelters and public assistance offices in order to broaden their scheme. Thanks to the Postal Inspection Service and my Office’s Financial Frauds Bureau, this illegal conduct has been stamped out.”

Inspector in Charge of the New York Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Philip R. Bartlett said: “Mr. Haffaney and his ‘crew’ thought they were very clever when they stalked Postal employees and stole U.S. mail from USPS satchel (push) carts. They were looking for checks to fund their bank fraud scam. Let me be crystal clear, if you steal the mail you’re going to jail.”

According to the indictment and statements made on the record in court, between May 2011 and October 2017, CRAIG HAFFANEY, 48, ANDRE EVANS, 54, and JAMES ANDERSON, 31, recruited individuals at homeless shelters and public assistance offices throughout New York City and paid them to open bank accounts and turn over their debit cards and personal information. The newly opened bank accounts were used by HAFFANEY, EVANS, J. ANDERSON, NYOMI ANDERSON, 37, and DORRINDA BELL, 63, to deposit forged checks and checks drawn on empty checking accounts belonging to co-conspirators in order to take advantage of bank policies that allow funds to be credited to a customer’s account before a check clears. Once the fraudulent checks were deposited, HAFFANEY, EVANS, J. ANDERSON, N. ANDERSON, and BELL stole funds by withdrawing as much money as possible before the checks were rejected by the banks.

As part of the scheme, HAFFANEY and EVANS directed co-conspirators to steal mail in order to obtain checks that could be altered for use in the scheme. HAFFANEY provided stolen checks and the names of account holders to BELL, who created forged checks payable in the names of the individuals who opened accounts for use in the scheme. The forged checks were then distributed to co-conspirators, including ERIC BENSON, 68, to be deposited into the accounts so that the funds could be withdrawn.

ATANDA NURAINA, 58, also conspired with BELL, HAFFANEY, DIERDRE JOHNSON, 44, and others to steal funds through the fraudulent check scheme and distribute money orders purchased with the stolen funds to the aforementioned defendants

In total, CRAIG HAFFANEY, J. ANDERSON, N. ANDERSON, BELL, JOHNSON, EVANS, and NURAINA were collectively able to steal more than $500,000 from TD Bank, Capital One Bank, and Bank of America through the fraudulent check scheme.

In a separate but related scheme, BELL, JOHNSON, KENDRA GOLDEN, 44, DARLINE GREGORY, 45, stole approximately $16,000 from USALLIANCE Financial by initiating fraudulent wire transfers. At BELL’s direction, GOLDEN, GREGORY, and JOHNSON opened accounts in their own names at USALLIANCE. The defendants gave bank representatives false instructions to wire funds they purportedly held in accounts at other banks into their new USALLIANCE accounts, then used funds credited by the bank based on the anticipated wire transfers before the transfers could be flagged by the banks as fraudulent.

Assistant D.A. Kofi Sansculotte and Assistant D.A. Laura Wexler are handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Gloria Garcia, Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, Assistant D.A. Archana Rao, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, and Executive Assistant D.A. Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Investigative Analyst Oliver Van Zant, Paralegal Marissa Volpe, Associate Financial Investigator of the Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations Bureau Je T’aime Mann, Supervising Rackets Investigator Patrick O’Brien, Senior Rackets Investigator Michael O’Brien, Supervising Rackets Investigator Max Adler, and Investigator Maria Coyt-Freda assisted with the investigation under the supervision of Chief Investigator Walter Alexander and Deputy Chief Investigator Jonathan Reid.

District Attorney Vance thanked the U.S. Postal Service for their assistance with the investigation.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

Defendant Information:
CRAIG HAFFANEY, a/k/a “BLACK”, D.O.B 11/14/1969
New York, NY

Charged:
• Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
• Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
• Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
• Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts
• Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

JAMES ANDERSON, a/k/a “POPPY”, D.O.B 3/27/1987

Charged:
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

NYOMI ANDERSON, a/k/a “NAE NAE”, D.O.B 1/31/1981
New York, NY

Charged:
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
• Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

DORRINDA BELL, a/k/a “DORRINDA LEMONIER” and “GALE,” D.O.B 11/1/1954
Queens, NY

Charged:
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 5 counts
• Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
• Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts
• Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts

ERIC BENSON, a/k/a “O.T.”, D.O.B 2/21/1950
Bronx, NY

Charged:
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
• Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

ANDRE EVANS, a/k/a “DEADEYE”, D.O.B 2/19/1964
Bronx, NY

Charged:
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts
• Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 4 counts
• Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
• Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

KENDRA GOLDEN, D.O.B 5/15/1973
Queens, New York

Charged:
• Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

DARLINE GREGORY, D.O.B 1/3/1973
New York, NY

Charged:
• Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

DIERDRE JOHNSON, a/k/a “D”, D.O.B 7/11/1973
Queens, NY

Charged:
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
• Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

ATANDA NURAINA, a/k/a “STEVE”, D.O.B 4/9/1960

Charged:
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
• Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count