HAMPTON, Va. – A man and six others are accused of pretending to defraud Navy Federal Credit Union bank account customers and targeting Sailors on Tinder.
Trequan Smith was allegedly the ringleader of the group that obtained more than $300,000 and impacted more than 20 victims, according to federal documents.
Records say members of the group would pose as Navy Federal Credit Union employees and tell people their accounts had been compromised in order to gain access to their personal banking information, then transfer the victims' money.
They state Smith and others would also pose as females on applications like Tinder to try and target Sailors interested in a romantic relationship.
The Sailor would be told by the suspect they needed help wiring money to a relative. Prosecutors say money taken from the Navy Federal Credit Union scheme would be put into the accounts of the Sailors, and then the Sailor would withdraw the money.
The Sailors were unknowingly involved in helping the scheme and also victimized themselves.
Documents state the scheme took place between April 2020 through October 2021.
One of the members of the group apparently agreed to work with law enforcement and cooperate when she realized they were under investigation.
Prosecutors also claim that Smith followed this woman to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, assaulted her and then texted her pretending to be an investigator on the case.
Through a plea agreement, Smith agreed to plead guilty to bank fraud.
Records state that the victims of the fraud scheme are almost all junior members of the United States Navy and have limited financial means.
The documents say they suffered substantial hardship from the defendant in his co-conspirator scheme to defraud.
The defendant understands and acknowledges that the United States is still actively identifying new victims and losses the number of victims and losses at sentencing may be higher, according to the records.
There is no sentencing date set as of Monday.
Smith remains held in the Western Tidewater Regional Jail.