Westerville man pleads guilty in federal court to fraud scheme

A Westerville man was among three people who admitted their role in a multi-state scheme to defraud millions of dollars from financial institutions.

Syed Abbas, 32, also known as “Sonny Shah,” pleaded guilty in New Jersey federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud for crimes that took place between March 2018 and April 2020. The indictment carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.

According to court documents, Abbas and others opened accounts at various banks in the name of “shell companies that were not engaged in any legitimate business activity”, under names including “Single Bite Catering”, “Burger Slap” and “Speed. Staffing ”, according to the documents.

The alleged conspirators then issued checks and carried out debit card transactions involving the shell companies to withdraw funds before banking systems realized the balances were insufficient to cover the activity, according to documents.

Investigators say the group used around 200 bank accounts and 75 merchant processing accounts under the program. Losses to financial institutions as a result of the scheme totaled $ 3.5 million, according to court documents.

Seven people have admitted their involvement in the crime to date; Abbas pleaded guilty last week, along with a New York woman and a New Jersey man.

Abbas is expected to be sentenced in September.

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