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Philadelphia Identity Theft Ringleader Sentenced To More Than 230 Months In Prison

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(File photo.  Credit: Thinkstock)

(File photo. Credit: Thinkstock)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia man has been sentenced to 232 months in prison for aggravated identity theft, bank fraud, access device fraud, counterfeit currency fraud and conspiracy.

A U.S. District Judge also ordered 38-year-old Evens Claude to pay more than $600,000 in restitution.

Authorities say between 2008 and 2011 Claude organized and ran two identity theft and counterfeit currency rings which pillaged the accounts of 48 victims causing losses of more than $609,000 to 26 corporate victims.

Officials say Claude fraudulently created accounts in victims’ names and then added the names of his criminal associates, or runners, as authorized users on the accounts.

Claude also had his runners use high-quality counterfeit money to buy expensive goods from stores like Home Depot or Lowes, and then return the goods to another store branch for genuine currency, authorities say.

While he was on supervised release in 2011, Claude partnered with his brother John “Mo” Claude to commit identity theft. Mo Claude was later murdered by one of the runners in a payment dispute over the proceeds. However, officials say Claude still continued to engage in identity theft after his brother’s death.

Authorities say Claude used his proceeds to purchase real estate, a Maserati, a BMW, a Ferrari and to rent a luxury apartment.

Claude’s long criminal history dating back to 1993 includes drug distribution, counterfeit currency fraud, and illegal re-entry after deportation.

He represented himself at sentencing.

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