CT man sentenced in $319K counterfeit check scheme
A 26-year-old Waterbury man has been sentenced to nearly four years in jail for his role in an attempt to steal more than $500,000 through in a counterfeit check scheme.
Jonell Bonilla and his accomplices were successful in defrauding at least a dozen banks of approximately $319,000, according to federal prosecutors.
John H. Durham, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, said Bonilla was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant to 46 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release, for operating a counterfeit check bank fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately December 2017 and January 2019, Bonilla and others obtained access to bank accounts by recruiting individuals through social media and persuading the individuals to share their account information, including debit cards and associated PIN numbers.
The account holders were paid for providing access to their bank accounts.
Bonilla and his accomplices misrepresented to the account holders that U.S. Postal Service money orders or authentic checks would be deposited into their accounts.
After Bonilla and his accomplices had access to the accounts, they deposited counterfeit checks into those accounts and then withdrew money from the accounts before the banks discovered the checks to be counterfeit, Durham said.
Bonilla and his co-conspirators attempted to steal more than $500,000 through this scheme, and were successful in defrauding at least 12 banks of approximately $319,000.
Judge Bryant ordered Bonilla to pay restitution of $254,499.90.
Bonilla has been detained since his arrest on Jan. 9, 2019.
On Oct. 2, 2019, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud.
Three of Bonilla’s accomplices have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.