RALEIGH, NC – Shawn Franklin, Sabrina Wiggins Branch and Anthony Maryland were each sentenced to jail today for conspiring with each other to commit bank and wire fraud. Franklin, currently residing in Georgia, was sentenced today to 126 months in prison for organizing and directing a multi-year conspiracy to defraud financial institutions and lenders of more than $1 million. Branch was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Maryland to one day followed by eight months of house arrest. On September 30, all three pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Franklin also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft. All three were ordered to pay restitution and confiscate their US fraud proceeds in the form of monetary judgments.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, Franklin, 48, Branch, 39, and Maryland, 49, used synthetic identities to apply for credit and financing. Branch and Maryland used their real names coupled with nine-digit numbers not issued to them by the Social Security Administration for credit and loan applications. Franklin also used his real name, variations of his name or his ex-wife’s name coupled with nine-digit numbers that were never issued or issued to others by the Social Security Administration. To bolster creditworthiness, these illegal synthetic identities, often referred to as “CPNs” or “Credit Privacy Numbers,” were added as authorized users to credit cards belonging to others with positive credit scores.
In addition to using synthetic identities in his name or variations of his name to obtain credit, Franklin used the real names and Social Security numbers of 10 NC Medicaid recipients to obtain credit cards, home loans consumption and automobile financing. Franklin previously had access to this personal information when he ran Wayne County Day Treatment, an NC Medicaid mental health care provider. Franklin also rented an apartment in Raleigh in the name of one of the Medicaid recipients without permission. Maryland resided in the apartment. To rent the apartment and obtain the loans, Franklin provided fictitious NC driver’s licenses in the names of those people who bore his likeness.
Franklin maximized the proceeds of credit card fraud by making bogus payments, often over the phone or online. This caused banks to reinstate credit limits. Before the credit issuer received notification that the payments were fictitious, additional charges were incurred resulting in significant losses.
Franklin used the cards to pay for many personal expenses for himself and his family, including his daughter-in-law’s tuition at Spelman College and associated living expenses, his other adult daughters’ orthodontist bill and his ex-wife’s dental and plastic surgery procedures.
To generate money, Franklin conspired with Branch to charge over $600,000 on fraudulently obtained credit cards through Branch’s various merchant accounts associated with his retail store in Wilmington’s Independence Mall. Franklin and Wiggins shared the proceeds: 85% for Franklin and 15% for Branch. After the merchant account processor deposited the illegal proceeds into a branch bank account, she withdrew Franklin’s share in cash. Branch kept his withdrawals below $10,000 to avoid filing a currency transaction report.
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement following sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, and Assistant United States Attorney Susan B. Menzer prosecuted the case.
Court documents and related information can be viewed on the website of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Or on PACER by searching for case #5:21-cr-00315-D.