LOS ANGELES — A Georgia man was sentenced today to 94 months in federal prison for participating in a nationwide fraud ring that used stolen Social Security numbers — including those belonging to children — to create synthetic identities used to open lines of credit, set up front companies, and steal nearly $2 million from financial institutions.
Corey Cato, 41, of Atlanta, was convicted by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who also ordered him to pay $1,908,481 in restitution. Cato pleaded guilty May 9 to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud at a financial institution and one count of aggravated identity theft.
As late as 2017, Cato joined conspiracies to defraud banks and illegally possess credit cards. Cato and his co-conspirators created “synthetic identities” by combining fake personal information such as fake names and dates of birth with the information of real people, such as their social security numbers. Cato and others then used the synthetic identities and fake identity documents to open bank and credit card accounts at financial institutions. Cato and his co-conspirators used the illegally obtained credit cards to fund their way of life.
As part of the scheme, Cato maintained a commercial mail receiving agency space called “Pak Mail” in Georgia where he and his co-conspirators received correspondence related to synthetic identities, including bank account statements and credit card, while isolating their home addresses from detection.
Using a stolen social security number and a fake California driver’s license, Cato rented an apartment in Atlanta under the name “Jason Brown”, where, in February 2019, he had credit cards and financial information in the name of synthetic identities like “Adam M. López” and “Carlos Rivera”.
Total bank losses totaled approximately $1.9 million.
“[Cato] and his co-conspirators built their wealth on the backs of the people whose identities they stole, many of them children,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “The effects on these victims’ credit history and their sense of violation are impossible to quantify, but they are more reminiscent of the seriousness of [Cato’s] crime and the callousness of his conduct.
Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case, which is part of a series of cases that have resulted in criminal convictions for 12 defendants, including Turhan Lemont Armstrong, 52, of Northridge, who was found guilty at trial in 2019 of 51 counts of fraud, money laundering, identity theft and other federal offenses.
Source: press release