February 4, 2014
COLUMBIA — Bryan A. Willingham, 33, of Anderson was sentenced Jan. 29 in federal court in Anderson for his involvement in a scheme to defraud a federally insured bank.
District Judge Timothy M. Cain sentenced Willingham to 33 months in prison and ordered him to pay over $28,000 in restitution.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Willingham and his associates recruited people to open checking accounts at Wachovia/Wells Fargo. Worthless checks drawn on other banks were then deposited into these accounts.
The check amounts were approximately between $1,100 and $1,600. The funds would be withdrawn at ATM machines before the bank could discover the fraud.
The individuals opening the accounts would also submit false police reports that they were the victim of identity theft. Based on an analysis of addresses, names, and telephone numbers associated with the various accounts, bank investigators estimate that 150 accounts were involved with losses totaling approaching $100,000.
The case was investigated by agents of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.