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A prisoner masterminded an Ocean's Eleven-style robbery using a Samsung phone

The accused allegedly defrauded a financial firm of $11 million using a cell phone inside a maximum security prison.

Published onOctober 13, 2022

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  • A maximum security prisoner allegedly used a cell phone to defraud a top financial firm of $11 million.
  • The incident is nothing short of a blockbuster movie plot.

What can only be described as a plot straight out of a movie, a US prisoner allegedly defrauded a top financial firm to the tune of $11 million. All this while, he was sitting in a maximum security jail pretending to be billionaire film producer Sidney Kimmel.

The fascinating chain of events reported by The Register took place in June 2020, when Arthur Lee Cofield Jr called Charles Schwab brokerage using a blue Samsung phone he kept hidden under his arm. He told the firm that he had uploaded a wire disbursement form using the service’s secure email service.

The inmate referred to a transfer verification inquiry earlier that day by his wife — another female co-conspirator. He had previously called Schwab’s customer service about opening a checking account. At the time, he was told that a form of identification and a utility bill would be required.

Cofield’s partner in crime provided the bank with a picture of Kimmel’s driver’s license and a LA water and power utility bill. Once Schwab was satisfied with the authentication documents, it sent out $11 million from Kimmel’s Schwab account to a Zions Bank account for Money Metal Exchange, LLC — a gold coin seller based in Idaho.

All this while, the real Kimmel was clueless that his account had been drained of millions of dollars. The transaction resulted in the purchase of 6,106 gold coins by an individual who hired a private security firm to fly the coins in a chartered plane from Boise, Idaho, to Atlanta, Georgia. Another associate of Cofield received the coins a few days later.

The entire operation was conducted in less than 15 days. However, the day after the coins were purchased, prison staff is said to have found Cofield’s hidden cell phone. The forensic unit at the prison found that Cofield had been using an account on free voice and messaging service TextNow. Investigators also matched the phone number with calls made to Money Metals Exchange.

Later in December 2020, a federal grand jury indicted Cofield and two co-conspirators for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering. The defense lawyer filed to suppress the cell phone evidence, arguing that the search by the prison staff was warrantless. However, the judge overseeing the case has rejected the defense’s claims.

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