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Clever Scheme Ends in Prison, Feds Say

HOUSTON (CN) - Two men were sentenced to federal prison for depositing worthless checks into Chase Bank accounts, using the money to buy expensive electronics from Wal-Mart and returning the items for cash, federal prosecutors said.

Voncil Felder, 23, and Netfa Lowe, 34, both of Houston, were sentenced to 27 and 84 months in prison, respectively. They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Netfa Lowe worked the scheme with his brother and co-defendant Iba Lowe, 35, of Houston, prosecutors said.

"The Lowes paid recruiters, and recruited individuals themselves, to open Chase debit card accounts for the sole purpose of obtaining the debit cards for those accounts," prosecutors said.

The Lowes then deposited worthless, fraudulent checks into the accounts, prosecutors said in the statement.

"Once the fraudulent checks had been credited to the accounts, Iba and Netfa Lowe would make withdrawals and large ticket electronic item purchases at Wal-Mart stores based on the funds supplied via the deposits of the fraudulent checks," prosecutors said.

"The Lowes stored the large ticket items in U-Haul vans that Felder helped to rent until they could return the items for cash. The Lowes used this cash to pay recruiters and recruits and to continue the fraudulent scheme."

Iba Lowe and co-defendant Stephen Wilson, 25, of San Antonio, will be sentenced on May 18 and June 22, prosecutors said.

The Lowes paid Wilson for recruiting people to open the accounts, prosecutors said.

Netfa Lowe also pleaded guilty to access device fraud.

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