Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:30

Florida: Former University Student Sentenced for Identity Theft

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Christopher J. Wright, 23, a former student at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), received a sentence of two years in federal prison on charges of identity theft and access device fraud.


The charges stem from a plant to steal financial aid funds from students at the university.

In 2010, Wright and codefendants Carliss Pereira 22, and Carl Coutard, 22, were students at FAMU. They found a way to access the financial aid accounts of the university's students via its iRattler computer system. They stole user names, passwords, and other personally identifying information of FAMU students by digging in the trash bins near the university computer help desk and taking paperwork that had been thrown out. They also stole personal information by accessing public information on the Internet and by tricking students and employees at FAMU to provide sensitive personal information.

The defendants then used the information gathered to log onto the financial aid accounts of students who were to receive refunds. By changing the bank account and routing numbers on these accounts, the defendants diverted the financial aid funds to pre-paid debit cards.

In most of the cases, FAMU was able to reverse these fraudulent transfers of funds.

Coutard and Pereira entered guilty pleas on the access device fraud and aggravated identity theft charges in 2013. Coutard received a sentence of six months of home detention and six months of community confinement. He was also ordered to perform 80 hours of community service under a three-year supervised release order. Pereira received a sentence of three years of supervised release, four months of home detention, and two months of community confinement. He also had to perform 80 hours of community service and pay restitution to FAMU in the amount of $3,983.

Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney, said the sentence of Wright makes it clear that committing these types of crime brings serious consequences, including a potential conviction for a felony and a term in prison. According to Marsh, the defendants breached the security of the university to victimize their fellow students.


Christopher J. Wright, Indictment, U.S. Department of Justice Press Release


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