Computer Crime Research Center


Hutto man sentenced in check scam

Date: July 10, 2008
By: Traviss Thomas

A Hutto resident has been sentenced in U.S. District Court on computer fraud and identity theft charges.

Steven Bradley Davis, 43, was convicted of aggravated identity theft and unlawful access to a protected computer. The charges were related to a check-cashing scheme that bilked account holders of more than $65,000, according to a press release issued by the court.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sentenced Davis to 72 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay more than $391,000 in restitution to the victims of the scam, according to the press release.

Each of the other three defendants in the case also was ordered to pay the same amount in restitution. Though each conviction carries the same $391,000 penalty, the payment will actually be assessed between the four defendants, according to the court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Devlin, computer hacking and intellectual property coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s office, prosecuted the case for the government.

He said the restitution payment will be used to reimburse defrauded accountholders and to repay financial institutions for some of the indirect costs incurred by the scam, including cleaning up their compromised computer systems, sending notifications to accountholders and measures to prevent future losses.

The other defendants convicted in the scam are Adrian Eralio Carreon, 33, of Cedar Park, William Timothy Evans, 46, of Tyler, and Robert Lloyd Taylor, 31, of Round Rock. Each was sentenced to 24 months in prison.

Davis allegedly used his job as a database administrator with financial data company FundsXpress to gain access to private financial account information contained within a computer database belonging to his employer.

The scam involved using the stolen account information to produce counterfeit checks that were successfully passed at businesses in the Austin area. Davis and the other defendants also allegedly manufactured and used phony identification documents to verify the illegal transactions.

According the U.S. Attorney’s office, at least 11 financial institutions and 62 financial accounts fell victim to the fraud.

Devlin said this type of crime is unusual, though it remains a danger to accountholders. “The risk is rising because of the way people use computers and the Internet these days,” he said. “No matter how many safeguards are in place, a dishonest employee can thwart the system.”

The case was investigated by the Austin Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service.

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