‘Financial terrorist’ gets 12 years

Posted: March 15, 2013

The ringleader of a large fraud and identity theft ring, described by his victims as a "financial terrorist," was sentenced today in federal court to 12 years in prison.

Lawrence Fudge, 47, of West Oak Lane, defrauded dozens of victims as he amassed more than $360,000 in cash and goods.

According to prosecutors, Fudge employed a network of bank employees, check runners, and an insurance company employee.

He used illegal drugs to entice some of the conspirators. In at least one case, he flashed a gun in ensure participation, according to prosecutors.

Fudge, portrayed by prosecutors as a career criminal, had previous convictions for firearms, drug and identity theft. But those convictions did nothing to deter him, prosecutors said. He was on probation in New Jersey as he put his scheme in to motion in 2007 in Philadelphia.

Fudge had the insurance and bank employees mine personal data from their clients. Those victims included customers from PNC Bank, Citizens Bank, Commerce Bank, Wachovia Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Sovereign Bank, Bank of America, and Citidel Bank.

Check runners took the victims information and opened credit card accounts at retail stores. The runners then charged up to $15,000 on each card. Among the retail stores targeted were Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, Macy's, Sam's Club, T-Mobile, Toys R Us, Target and Zales.

Fudge was arrested in August 2011. But even as he was out on pre-trial release, Fudge continued operating the scam, according to court documents.

As investigators readied for trial, fear of retaliation kept several participants from cooperating, prosecutors said.

Fudge pleaded guilty in December 2012 to conspiracy, six counts of bank fraud, eight counts of access device fraud and 18 counts of aggravated identity theft.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence F. Stengel ordered restitution of $311,878, a special assessment of $3,300, and 10 years of supervised release.

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com.

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