Man Facing Wire Fraud Charges in Check Cashing Scheme

Stephen Hamman, 52, was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and passing United States Treasury checks bearing forged signatures.  According to United States Attorney Benjamin Wagner, the Modesto man was arraigned on 22 charges in front of United States Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin.

According to the indictment, Hamman conspired with others to cash stolen or fraudulently obtained checks at virtual commerce machines (also known as VCOM) between January 2009 and January 2011.  Hamman also used counterfeit VCOM accounts to attempt to cash the checks, sometimes using checks that other conspirators had previously attempted and failed to cash.

During the course of the scam, he and others caused or intended to cause a loss of over $50,000 to at least 50 different victims.  The grand jury contends that the list of victims included financial institutions as well as others.

If found guilty of the conspiracy and wire fraud counts, Hamman faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.  The maximum penalty for fraudulently passing U.S. Treasury checks is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The case was the product of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Baker is prosecuting the case.

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