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Wilmington man charged in illegal credit scheme

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THIS INFORMATION FROM A NEWS RELEASE SENT TO THE WWAY NEWSCHANNEL 3 NEWSROOM

RALEIGH, NC (USAO) -- The United States Attorney’s Office announced that a Federal Grand Jury returned a 74-count Criminal Indictment on February 23, 2011, charging JAMES WALTER GODDARD, 40, of Wilmington, North Carolina, with bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344; wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343; money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(1); aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A; and obstruction of justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1519. The Indictment was unsealed at his Initial Appearance in federal court yesterday.

According to the Indictment, from 2005 to 2009, GODDARD submitted hundreds of false credit card and lines of credit applications in the names of multiple individuals or businesses to various banks. GODDARD, who called himself the Credit Doctor of North Carolina, met with individuals/business owners during which time they provided him some personal information including their full name, address, social security number, and date of birth.

Individual and business annual income was not discussed. GODDARD touted his specialized skills included obtaining credit for newly formed businesses as well as credit repair, charging a 15% fee on each credit line he obtained. The individuals believed they were only going to get one or two credit cards. However, GODDARD applied and was approved for between 10-20 cards on the individuals’ behalf.

The Indictment further alleges that GODDARD submitted falsified applications regarding annual incomes and the date the businesses were established, stating the businesses had been in operation for years and were making millions of dollars a year in gross revenue. Through the use of a return preparer, fictitious tax returns were also created. The banks, relying on this information, granted significant credit card and business lines of credit. GODDARD, concealing his identity, submitted the applications online and put the credit cards in the names of the individual/business owners. GODDARD began opening more and more credit cards without permission to generate revenue for himself.

The Indictment goes on to allege that in September, 2005, GODDARD applied for a merchant account through First Data Systems, a processor of credit card transactions, which allowed GODDARD to charge the individual/business owner’s credit cards for his 15% fee. GODDARD concealed the reason for his charging the cardholder’s accounts when questioned by First Data Systems. GODDARD, collecting his 15% by charging the credit cards under the merchant name, Goddard, Inc., laundered over $950,000.00 in merchant payments to his Sun Trust accounts from 2006-2009. In addition, from 2005 to 2011, GODDARD has caused over $4,000,000.00
in credit application and wire fraud.

Also alleged in the Indictment, GODDARD applied for and was approved for 14 business credit cards in which he overstated his income and/or his date of business establishment was false. The maximum penalty for bank fraud is up to 30 years’ imprisonment followed by up to five years’ supervised release. For wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice, the maximum penalty is up to 20 years’ imprisonment followed by up to three years’ supervised release. Aggravated identity theft carries a maximum penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment followed by up to 1 year supervised release.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations Division and the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Felice McConnell Corpening represented the government.

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