Onetime fugitive gets prison in $860K fraud

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2012 - 7:38 PM

He fled to Ghana after conviction for bank account thefts.

More than three years after fleeing the continent upon conviction, a Maplewood man has been sentenced in federal court in Minneapolis for stealing more than $860,000 from individuals' bank accounts.

Marcus Kwamena Benson, 40, was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison for bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and related charges in a scheme that involved three others.

Benson was indicted Sept. 15, 2008, convicted in a four-day trial and fled to Ghana using a false passport. He recently was captured as he attempted to fly from Ghana to Kenya, and was returned to the Twin Cities. While on the run, according to the U.S. attorney's office, he participated in another check-cashing scheme.

The initial indictment alleged that Benson used the names and personal identification data of bank account holders to apply for and receive credit cards from financial institutions. He then used the cards to get cash advances.

Evidence during his trial also showed that Benson obtained money from the home equity accounts of his victims by ordering checks in their names and using the checks to withdraw cash from the equity line accounts.

In a search of his home in August 2008, authorities found equipment used to make false documents -- computers, a scanner and a printer -- and at least 15 unauthorized credit cards.

The others who were sentenced last year include Jason R. Hansen, 34, of Crystal; Jason E. Clark, 40, of Cottage Grove; and Nou Thao, 35, of Maplewood.

Hansen worked for a mortgage loan subsidiary and stole the personal identification and financial information of loan customers for use in the scheme. Thao and Clark also created fake checks to obtain cash.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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