Atlanta Instagram scammers sentenced for check fraud scheme

Three Atlantans offered “fast cash” in Instagram ads to people who were willing to share their bank account info, then used it to steal more than $600,000 from two credit unions and a bank, according to the FBI.

Now, the trio face three years and five months in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Federal authorities said Stefon D. Clark, 27, Ayanna Johnson, 23, and Quantaves Curry, 27, compromised more than 240 banks accounts and stole more than $600,000 from the USAA credit union, Navy Federal Credit Union and BB&T bank.

“The ease with which they were able to prey on unsuspecting citizens reinforces that bank customers should always carefully guard their bank account information,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn in Atlanta.

During a scheme lasting at least 17 months, the FBI said, the trio posted advertisements on Instagram and other social media sites offering “fast cash” to people who had accounts at the financial institutions.

From some people who answered the ads, the fraudsters were able to obtain bank account numbers, PIN numbers, online banking info and debit cards.

The FBI said the trio then deposited checks that were stolen or from closed accounts into the compromised accounts and withdrew cash from the accounts before the financial institutions realized the checks were bogus.

Altogether, more than $1 million of such invalid checks were deposited, the FBI said.

Clark, who pleaded guilty to the crime in January, was sentenced last week in the U.S. District County in Atlanta. Curry and Johnson pleaded guilty last year and were sentenced last November.

Besides the prison time, the trio have been ordered to pay back the $613,476 they withdrew from the financial institutions.

“Bank fraud is not a victimless crime and this case clearly illustrates that those engaging in this type of criminal act will pay a high price for those actions,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.