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California man pleads guilty to $1.2M financial fraud scheme after HSI-led investigation

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A convicted felon from Orange County who used Instagram to teach his followers how to defraud banks pleaded guilty May 30 to conspiring with a bank employee and others to commit a check fraud scheme in which they sought $1.2 million.

Meshach Samuels, 26, of Placentia, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

“This scheme defrauded financial institutions and a program designed to help people in need with the sole purpose of enriching greedy criminals,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang. “The El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force will work tirelessly to ensure that financial crimes do not go unpunished.”

According to his plea agreement, from May 2021 to March 2022, Samuels urged his Instagram followers to join his Telegram chat groups, where — for fees up to thousands of dollars — he would provide instructions on how to recruit accomplices and commit check fraud to steal money from banks.


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