Atlanta man indicted, accused of stealing $11 million while in Georgia prison

A prison inmate and two others from Atlanta are accused of impersonating a victim to steal $11 million. In June, Arthur Cofield allegedly used a contraband cellphone to acquire multiple identifications for a victim named S.K. That allowed him to access online accounts owned by the victim and managed by Charles Schwab. Cofield allegedly impersonated the victim again purchasing $11 million in American Gold Eagle coins from Money Metals Exchange LLC. On June 13, Cofield hired a private security company to bring the gold coins to Atlanta by a chartered private plane. Cofield then used part of the stolen funds to purchase a $4.4 million house in Buckhead on Sept. 1. Authorities haven’t released information as to how the trio were caught, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service continue to investigate the case

A prison inmate and two others from Atlanta are accused of impersonating a victim to steal $11 million, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Arthur Cofield, 29, Eldridge Maurice Bennett, 63, and Eliayah Bennett, 25, were indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and bank fraud, U.S. Attorney BJay Pak said in a news release Thursday.

Cofield is an inmate at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Butts County. He’s serving 20 years for an armed robbery in Douglas County in October 2007, online jail records show.

ATLANTA –Arthur Cofield and two others have been indicted for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering. ...

Posted by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia on Thursday, December 10, 2020

“Some prisoners aren’t interested in rehabilitation or paying their debt to society,” Pak said.

In June, Cofield used a contraband cellphone to acquire multiple identifications for a victim named S.K., according to Pak. That allowed him to access online accounts owned by the victim and managed by Charles Schwab.

On June 5, Cofield’s co-conspirator texted him with a photo of S.K.’s driver’s license and a utility bill so he could open a checking account with Charles Schwab, authorities said.

Three days later, Cofield impersonated the victim again and sent an email to purchase “6,106 American Gold Eagle one-ounce coins for the price of $10,998,859.92″ from Money Metals Exchange LLC, a metals dealer in Idaho, Pak said. On the same day, his co-conspirator contacted Charles Schwab, claimed to be calling on her husband’s behalf and looked into the process of initiating a wire transfer.

Cofield later followed up on the call to Charles Schwab and inquired about sending a wire transfer of $11 million while pretending to be S.K.

“Based on these false representations, Charles Schwab wired $11,000,000 from the account belonging to S.K. to an account controlled by Money Metals Exchange LLC,” Pak said.

On June 13, Cofield hired a private security company to bring the gold coins from Idaho to Atlanta by a chartered private plane. Three days later, co-defendant Eldridge Bennett gave a fake ID to the security team to take possession of the coins, Pak said.

Cofield then used part of the stolen funds to purchase a $4.4 million house in Buckhead on Sept. 1, Pak said.

Authorities haven’t released information as to how the trio were caught.

“The allure of millions of dollars in gold, coupled with contraband prison cellphones, allegedly was enough for Cofield to commit a brazen million-dollar fraud scheme from the confines of his prison cell,” Pak said.

Authorities said Cofield was imprisoned when he was also accused of attempting to commit a murder in Fulton County. According to an Atlanta police incident report, he was one of four suspects accused in the shooting of a man nine times in the 600 block of Metropolitan Parkway on Sept. 21, 2018.

“In Georgia, any party to any crime, even if they did not directly commit the crime personally, can be convicted for that crime,” Atlanta police spokesman Officer Steve Avery said. “In the incident reports, all of the arrestees were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime.”

Eldridge Bennett and Eliayah Bennett have been arraigned in the fraud case, while Cofield is expected to be arraigned at a later date, Pak said.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service is continuing to investigate the case.