Calif. Man Forfeits$4.5M for Synthetic Identity Scheme

Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security brings you single-source access to the expertise of Bloomberg Law’s privacy and data security editorial team, contributing practitioners,...

By David McAfee

March 14 — A Santa Monica, Calif. man recently pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud stemming from an alleged “synthetic identity fraud” ring that prosecutors said created false identities to obtain credit cards.

Yair Shoshani is “deeply remorseful,” James W. Spertus of Spertus, Landes & Umhofer LLP, counsel to defendant Shoshani, told Bloomberg BNA March 14.

Shoshani—whose guilty plea was accepted March 10 by U.S. District Judge George H. King for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California—faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and agreed to forfeit five properties and almost $4.5 million in cash as part of his plea agreement.

“Although he was a relatively minor participant in the overall charged scheme, he helped others commit fraud and is deeply remorseful for his role in the charged conspiracy,” Shoshani's attorney said.

Shoshani's conviction is the most recent in a number of similar developments in prosecutions brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The guilty plea comes just a month after another Los Angeles area man, Jeffrey Pineda, pleaded guilty to a bank fraud charge after allegedly stealing the identities of his personal banking clients.

Synthetic Identities

According to prosecutors, Shoshani—who also goes by Ben Yahuda and Ben Cohen—and others engaged in a “bust-out” scheme using synthetic identities to defraud banks that issue credit cards, including JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo Bank.

“Synthetic identity fraud causes significant loss to our nation’s financial institutions, as this case illustrates,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a March 10 statement. “This guilty plea is a testament to law enforcement’s ability to look behind numerous false identities and fictitious businesses to hold the perpetrators accountable for their fraud.”

Prosecutors said Shoshani and others created “entirely fictitious synthetic identities” and used them to apply for credit cards. They also allegedly manipulated the credit ratings for the manufactured identities by adding them as authorized users to credit card accounts of real people with high credit scores.

Shoshani and other participants in the scheme then set up fake businesses to process credit card transactions that were never paid for and used the proceeds to buy five properties in the greater Los Angeles area, according to the government.

The government is represented by U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence S. Middleton and Andrew Brown. Shoshani is represented by Spertus, Landes & Umhofer LLP.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel R. Stoller at