Several men are accused of recruiting students at Grant High School in Portland and other young people to deposit counterfeit checks in various banks throughout Oregon and southwest Washington in an alleged bank fraud conspiracy case.
The defendants used their Instagram and Snapchat accounts to recruit the teenagers and set up a social media group dubbed the “God Squad’’ that displayed piles of cash and luxury cars to entice the youths to participate, according to a federal indictment partially unsealed this week.
The accused men promised the youths significant cash in exchange for their work, according to the indictment.
Tyrann Chambers, 21, Darrin Hopkins, 22, and Jaidan O’Neal have been arrested so far. Each has entered not guilty pleas to a 14-count federal indictment. O’Neal’s age wasn’t immediately available.
They’re charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, 12 counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The alleged conspiracy occurred between August 2017 and September, and more than $140,000 in counterfeit checks was deposited in various banks, according to prosecutors.
The banks targeted included U.S. Bank, Advantis Credit Union, Rivermark Community Credit Union, OnPoint Community Credit Union and Pentagon Federal Credit Union.
The defendants would have the young people deposit checks into bank accounts and then they would withdraw money from the accounts using the youths’ ATM and personal identification numbers, the government alleges. By using others’ ATM cards and PIN numbers, the defendants sought to conceal the fraud, the indictment says.
The accused men would coach their so-called “mules” on how to deposit checks and what to say to tellers if they were asked any questions, according to the indictment.
Further arrests are expected. No youths so far face federal face charges in the case.