URBANA — An Owings Mills, Md., man has been arrested on federal financial and wire fraud charges after defrauding a regional financial institution of $141,000.
Lovette Namatinga, 32, a citizen of Cameroon, was arrested Monday by federal law enforcement officials for the theft of $141,008 — between Feb. 26 and April 8 of this year — through computer transactions.
The arrest was made by the FDIC Office of Inspector General agents at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. Namatinga had been indicted Oct. 1 on charges he defrauded a financial institution.
He will be arraigned in the Central District of Illinois in Urbana. He is in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
If convicted of the financial fraud, Namatinga faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If convicted of wire fraud, each count carries up to 20 years and a fine of $250,000.
The theft took place on four different occasions and the checks were sent in the amounts of $37,650; $41,200; $40,506; and $21,650.
The electronic messages falsely represented the business and requested that the secretary for the financial organization send the checks to the customer’s business address in Maryland. The address, however, was the address of the person committing the crime.
Namatinga was a registered agent for the company, but was not in the position to make these requests.
He then deposited the checks into the businesses’ accounts at two banks. He then transferred the money to his personal bank accounts or withdrew the money from the business account.
The representative for the institution, who talked on the condition of not being identified, said the matter was brought to the institution’s top levels when the legitimate account holder eventually reviewed the organization’s bank statement and saw the unauthorized transactions.
The institution representative said the business noted they had been recently hacked.
“It’s unbelievable how sophisticated scammers are becoming. We are lucky it was only $140,000,” the person said. “Obviously we are not happy. We’ve never had anything happen like this before.”
The institution immediately revised its policies regarding over-the-telephone and email transactions.
Jason LeBeau, special agent with the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General, said email and phone scams perpetuated by foreign nationals have become a growing problem.
“These investigations are necessary and law enforcement is committed to discovering and catching these fraudsters,” he said.