MOUNT PLEASANT — Another of nine suspects charged with involvement in a reported fraud ring, which allegedly defrauded Mount Pleasant-based Educators’ Credit Union more than $30,000, has been arrested and charged.
In a criminal complaint filed publicly on Thursday, Araceli Vazquez, a 22-year-old from Greenfield who is believed to be the ex-girlfriend of alleged ringleader Devontae Leon Cash, 22, was charged with criminal fraud against a financial institution as an accomplice to ‘a crime. Cash’s address is also listed in Greenfield.
All but two of the nine suspects reside in Milwaukee County, with one being from Zion, Illinois, and the other from Racine. All are between 20 and 24 years old except one who is 30 years old.
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Online court records indicate that a complaint was filed and a subpoena against Vazquez on May 16, and that she did not appear in court on June 2. A warrant for her arrest was issued on June 6 and she made her first court appearance while in custody on Thursday. . A signing bond was set at $5,000 at Thursday’s hearing.
The complaint against Vazquez states that “Interestingly, (the detective) noted during his investigation that Vazquez both participated in the fraudulent scheme and was a victim of the scheme herself”.
According to criminal complaints, Cash acquired unfilled checkbooks from unwitting bank account holders, then acquired many people’s online login information for Educators Credit Union accounts, then made electronic deposits to those accounts using checks from these checkbooks, and then would immediately make withdrawals from the accounts before ECU realized that the checks were fraudulent. This practice is known as “card cracking”, which the American Bankers Association defines as “a form of fraud where consumers respond to an online solicitation for ‘easy money’ and provide a debit card for the withdrawal of bogus check deposits”.
In Thursday’s criminal complaint, an anonymous person’s account allegedly had two fraudulent checks for $1,250 each deposited into their account on January 19 and January 20, 2021. During those two days, six ATM withdrawals for one total of $2,000 was withdrawn from the account.
According to the complaint, earlier posts from Vazquez’s Snapchat social messaging app account show Vazquez providing that individual’s bank account information to Cash, with Cash promising Vazquez payouts of $375 and $300.
The money was debited from:
- Nineteen counts of criminal fraud against a financial institution (between $500 and $10,000)
- Two misdemeanor counts of fraud against a financial institution (under $500)
- Seven counts of conspiracy to commit fraud against a financial institution
- Twenty-eight counts of misdemeanor bail jumping
- Twenty-four counts of felony bail jumping
- One count of being the organizer of financial crimes, a felony
Seven other people named as co-defendants are:
- Lauryn I. Mason, 21, of Milwaukee, identified as a recruiter, charged with one count of fraud against a financial institution, due to appear June 23
- Demetrius Q. Wilson, 22, of Milwaukee, charged with one count of fraud against a financial institution, is due in court June 22
- Deanterrio T. King, 21, of Milwaukee, charged with one count of fraud against a financial institution
- Ashley N. Kruszwicki, 24, of West Allis, identified as recruiter, charged with two counts of financial institution fraud
- Alfred B. Williams, 21, of Milwaukee, charged with one count of fraud against a financial institution
- Abraham J. Scott, 20, of Zion, Illinois, charged with one count of fraud against a financial institution
- Kameron J. Simpson, 30, of the 1100 block of Marquette Street, Racine, charged with one count of fraud against a financial institution
In photos and video: Educators Credit Union opens location inside Horlick High School