NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man today admitted to conspiracy to commit bank fraud by soliciting U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees to steal check books and credit cards from the mail, depositing fraudulent checks, including pandemic relief checks, and using stolen credit cards without authorization, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Jahaad Flip, 20, of Newark, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From February 2019 to May 2020, Flip conspired to fraudulently obtain money from victim financial institutions by, among other things, depositing counterfeit checks and checks stolen from the mail into accounts and withdrawing funds from those accounts before the financial institutions identified the fraudulent checks and blocked further withdrawals. Flip and his conspirators arranged for USPS employees to steal credit cards and blank check books from the mail in exchange for cash payments. USPS employees provided the checks to Flip and his conspirators, who forged the signatures of the accountholders and negotiated the checks by making them payable to individuals. Some of these individuals were New Jersey high school students who had given Flip and his conspirators access to their accounts in exchange for cash. Flip and his conspirators also created counterfeit checks, including counterfeit pandemic relief checks. They deposited the fraudulent checks online and at various bank ATMs throughout New Jersey and later withdrew funds from the bank accounts before the victim financial institutions identified the checks as fraudulent. Flip and his conspirators obtained and attempted to obtain approximately $280,000 from victim financial institutions.
One of Flip’s conspirators, Tashon Ragan, pleaded guilty before Judge Wigenton last week to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and is due to be sentenced on Sept. 20, 2021. Charges are still pending against two other conspirators, Jeffrey Bennett and Janel Blackman. The charges against Bennett and Blackman are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 19, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Rodney M. Hopkins; special agents with the U.S. Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, Northeast Area Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Matthew Modafferi; special agents with IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez; and special agents with the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked the Summit Police Department, the New Providence Police Department, the Piscataway Police Department, the Newark Police Department, the South Orange Police Department, and the Little Falls Police Department for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Fayer and Elaine K. Lou in Newark.