The sign outside of a Wells Fargo branch. REUTERS/Jim Young
The sign outside of a Wells Fargo branch. REUTERS/Jim Young

“Disco Ronnie,” the lead defendant in a fraud case involving Wells Fargo employees who stole customer account data that was used to impersonate victims and steal money from their accounts, has been sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison.

Ronald Charles Reed, 70, of Inglewood, pleaded guilty in March 2016 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to felony counts of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Also known as “Disco Ronnie,” Reed was among eight defendants charged in two indictments returned by a federal grand jury last year. Three of the defendants remain unidentified and still at large.

In addition to the prison time, Reed was also ordered to pay Wells Fargo more than $580,000 in restitution, which is roughly the amount the bank lost in the scheme.

Prosecutors said Reed recruited four Wells Fargo employees in 2013 and 2014 and asked them to access the bank’s computer records. He purchased bank customers’ identifying information, including dates of birth, account numbers, driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers. Prosecutors said he provided the information to “runners” — the still-unidentified defendants — who used fake IDs to impersonate bank customers and made substantial cash withdrawals from their accounts.

The runners also used some of the customers’ accounts to deposit worthless checks and receive cash back at Wells Fargo branches across Southern California and in other states, including Minnesota and Nevada.

The former Wells Fargo employees involved in the scheme have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

–City News Service

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