Ten Chicago-area residents face the potential of decades behind bars after they allegedly used counterfeit U.S. Postal Service money orders to fraudulently obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars from area banks.
Multiple federal indictments returned by a grand jury late last month charged 10 people from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs with bank fraud, a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Those charged include: Nathan Chavis, 29, of Chicago; Marvin Cole, 29, of Chicago Heights; Reginald Russell, 29, of Glenwood; Darius Goodwin, 26, of Country Club Hills; Victor Johnson, 27, of Oak Forest; Lance Brandon Cole, 27, of Richton Park; Munang Ekoi, 26, of Lisle; Sernard Gill Jr., 26, of Matteson; Armani Spencer-Sprattlin, 32, of Park Forest; and Alexander Cocroft, 28, of Country Club Hills.
According to federal indictments, the defendants would purchase legitimate USPS money orders and illegally alter the amount on those orders. They would then deposit the altered orders into their bank accounts and quickly withdraw the cash before their banks were aware of the fraud, according to federal prosecutors.
In Chavis’ indictment, he is accused of buying money orders in amounts less than $10, and then altering that to higher amounts, “typically between $800 and $1,000.”
According to the indictments, Chavis caused at least $158,610 in altered and counterfeit money orders to be deposited into third-party bank accounts. Cocroft was allegedly responsible for at least $207,985. Marvin Cole and Russell were responsible for at least $132,593, according to federal prosecutors, while Goodwin, Johnson, Lance Cole, Ekoi, Gill and Spencer-Sprattlin were responsible for at least $895,000.
According to federal prosecutors, many of the defendants have already made initial appearances in federal court in Chicago.