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HSI investigates synthetic identities scheme that defrauded banks nearly $2M

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

LOS ANGELES – A Georgia man was sentenced Sept. 1 to more than seven years 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, create shell companies, and steal nearly $2 million from financial institutions. The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Corey Cato, 41, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who also ordered him to pay $1,908,481 in restitution. Cato pleaded guilty on May 9 to one count of conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

No later than 2017, Cato joined conspiracies to defraud banks and illegally possess credit cards. Cato and his co-conspirators created “synthetic identities” by combining false 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 ID documents to open bank and credit card accounts at financial institutions. Cato and his co-conspirators used the unlawfully obtained credit cards to fund their lifestyles.


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