Women sentenced for fraudulent car loan applications to Mississippi credit union; Their deceit included creating fictitious auto dealership

Published 11:36 am Friday, September 13, 2019

Two women – one from Tennessee, the other from Alabama, were sentenced in U.S. District court Thursday for conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud by lying about information on loan applications with a Mississippi credit union.

Shakedra Verleece Smith, of Nashville, Tennessee, and Sheri Youse a/k/a Sheri Johnson, of Birmingham, Alabama, were sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee for their roles in a conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Jere T. Miles, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans, and Shawn Wolfe, Resident Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service in Mississippi.

Smith and Youse were each sentenced to 60 months’ probation with 6 months of home confinement. Smith was ordered to pay $40,000 in restitution and Youse was ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution.

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Smith and Youse conspired with each other to apply for fraudulent automobile loans at Magnolia Federal Credit Union in Hinds County, Mississippi. The conspiracy spanned from March 2017 through October 2018.

The fraudulent loan applications contained false information to include computer-generated numbers in lieu of their legitimate social security numbers and places of employment. Magnolia Federal Credit Union relied on the information provided in the automobile loan applications and processed loans in each of the defendant’s names.

The false representations caused Magnolia Federal Credit Union to mail checks in amounts from $25,000 to $55,000 to what was later determined to be a fictitious automobile dealership. The defendants never intended to purchase or take possession of the vehicles that were referenced in the fraudulent loans.

The defendants were indicted on October 24, 2018. Youse pled guilty before Judge Lee on February 7, 2019, and Smith pled guilty on February 28, 2019.

“Those who defraud our financial institutions are defrauding all American taxpayers. I appreciate our law enforcement partners and prosecutor for catching these criminals and ensuring that our victims and taxpayers are protected,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst.

“This case makes clear that scammers who believe they can avoid accountability for their financial schemes are mistaken,” said Jere T. Miles, Special Agent in Charge of ICE, Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans. “HSI is committed to using its broad investigative authorities to investigate financial crimes and seek prosecution of offenders. We are appreciate of our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Secret Service to successfully prosecute this case and will continue to work with our partners to identify and stop these crimes.”