LOS ANGELES – The organizer of a bank fraud scheme in which Wells Fargo Bank employees stole customer account data – information that was used to impersonate scores of customers and steal well over a half-million dollars from their accounts – was sentenced today to 89 months in federal prison.
Ronald Charles Reed, 70, of Inglewood, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Fernando M. Olguin. In addition to the prison term, Judge Olguin ordered Reed to pay $580,332 in restitution to Wells Fargo Bank.
Reed pleaded guilty in March 2016 to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Reed, who is also known as “Disco Ronnie,” admitted that he worked with former Wells Fargo employees and “runners” in a scheme that caused Wells Fargo to suffer approximately $580,000 in losses.
Reed recruited four Wells Fargo employees in 2013 and 2014, asked them to access the bank’s computer records, and then purchased personal identifying information belonging to bank customers. The stolen information included dates of birth, account numbers, driver’s license numbers, and social security numbers.
Reed provided this stolen information to the runners. Using fake IDs, the runners impersonated bank customers and made substantial cash withdrawals from the customers’ accounts. In some cases, the runners also used the customer’s account to deposit worthless checks and receive cash back. The fraudulent transactions were made at Wells Fargo branches across Southern California and in other states, including Minnesota and Nevada.
Reed also admitted that in 2014 he purchased personal identifying information for accounts at U.S. Bank. Unbeknownst to Reed, the information he bought was for undercover accounts supplied by a confidential informant who was working with law enforcement.
Over a 13-month period that ended in mid-2014, Reed’s scheme caused runners to withdraw approximately $580,332 from 75 accounts belonging to Wells Fargo customers and $12,000 from two undercover accounts at U.S. Bank.
The former bank employees who worked with Reed have all pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing. The investigation into the runners – who remain unidentified – remains ongoing. Anyone with information on any of these individuals should contact FBI Special Agent Watkins at (310) 477-6565.