Northridge Man in $3M Identity Theft Scheme To be Sentenced

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Sentencing is set this morning for a Northridge man convicted of dozens of fraud, money laundering, identity theft and other federal charges in a scheme that generated at least $3.5 million.

As a result of the guilty verdicts, Turhan Lemont Armstrong, 50, faces the possibility of decades in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Armstrong was convicted in Los Angeles federal court in May 2019 of all 51 counts in a grand jury indictment, including multiple conspiracy charges, financial institution fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

Evidence presented during the two-week trial showed that Armstrong used stolen identities and Social Security numbers to obtain credit cards, open bank accounts, set up shell companies, apply for loans, and purchase homes and cars. Armstrong and his co-defendants -- two of whom pleaded guilty – favored using the social security numbers of children, who would be less likely to monitor their credit, prosecutors said.

In addition to using fraudulently obtained credit cards for purchases, members of the scheme were able to use point-of-sale terminals maintained by “collusive merchants,'' which allowed them to make what were essentially cash withdrawals.

Armstrong and his co-conspirators also used the fraudulent information to apply for loans from financial institutions across the country. In some instances, Armstrong obtained loans for cars that had already been exported out of the United States, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum that Armstrong's nationwide fraud scheme was successful for at least eight years.

The defendant “had not a single dollar of reported income between roughly 2009 and his arrest at the end of 2017,'' according to the document. “Yet during this time period he lived an opulent lifestyle, traversing the country, maintaining residences in three different states, obtaining luxury vehicles, and using fraudulent credit cards to shop expensive brands. The victims of defendant's crimes run the gamut: banks, credit card issuers, car dealerships, utility companies, and the people all over the country whose identities defendant stole.''

Photo: Getty Images

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