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News

Man Sentenced For $319K Counterfeit Check Fraud Scheme Involving 12 CT Banks

A Waterbury man has been sentenced for defrauding at least 12 Connecticut banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A Waterbury man has been sentenced for defrauding at least 12 Connecticut banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Photo Credit: Pixabay

One of four men who conspired to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars through an elaborate counterfeit check bank fraud scheme that targeted a dozen Connecticut banks has been sentenced.

Waterbury resident Jonell Bonilla, 26, has been sentenced to 46 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release for his role in the scheme, which went on for more than a year.

Between December 2017 and January 2019, Bonilla and his co-conspirators obtained access to bank accounts by recruiting targets through social media and persuading them to share their account information, including debit cards and associated PIN numbers.

The account holders were then supposed to be paid for providing access to the bank accounts. 

Bonilla and his co-conspirators misrepresented to the account holders that U.S. Postal Service money orders or authentic checks would be deposited into their accounts if they followed instructions. 

Once the fraudsters had access to the accounts, they deposited counterfeit checks into those accounts and then withdrew money from the accounts before the banks discovered the checks to be counterfeit.

In total, they attempted to steal more than $500,000 through the scheme, and were successful in defrauding at least 12 banks of approximately $319,000.

Bonilla has been in custody since he was arrested on Jan. 9 last year. On Oct. 2 last year, he pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud.

In addition to his prison sentence, Bonilla must also pay $254,499.90 in restitution.

Three of Bonilla’s co-conspirators have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

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