About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use DMCA Opt-out of personalized ads
© Copyright 2023 Market Realist. Market Realist is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.

South Florida Duo Defrauded Banks Of Nearly $800,000; How They Ran Their Auto Loan Scam

The pair had been held in the Broward County jail after they were federally indicted on bank fraud charges.
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Kindel Media
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Kindel Media

A man and a woman from South Florida were arrested last week for defrauding several financial institutions and banks of nearly $800,000, Local 10 reported. Lacretia Roquel Pratt, 50, and Bennie Ware III, 54, were federally indicted on bank fraud charges. The two carried out fraudulent auto loan schemes in 2018 with the stolen identity of victims.


According to court documents from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, banks and institutions the duo defrauded involved Bank of America, Citi Bank, Florida Credit Union, FRSA Credit Union, JP Morgan Chase Bank, McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union, Northern Trust Bank, Power Financial Credit Union, Regions Bank, Senate Financial Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, and TD Bank in their scheme.

The duo was also involved with the Jacksonville-based auto company Ride Now Auto Sales, LLC, Davie-based Ben Auto Sales Inc., and Miami-based Marshall Construction Cleaning Inc. through which they executed the fraud.

The court documents state Ware, Pratt, and other co-conspirators added one of their victims as a managing member of Ride Now in Florida corporation records. They then stole that person’s identity to open a checking account in Bank of America in the name of Ride Now.

Representative Image | Pexels | Photo by Pavel Danilyuk
Representative image | Pexels | Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

Further, prosecutors allege that the scammers then submitted fraudulent loan applications using the identities of five other victims whom they falsely represented and claimed that they all had agreed to buy automobiles from their associated companies, Ride Now and Ben Auto. As a result of the fraudulent loan applications, institutions including the Senate Federal Credit Union, Power Federal Credit Union, Florida Credit Union, McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union, and FRSA Credit Union issued cashier's checks of the requested loan amounts to Ride Now and Ben Auto. These checks were then submitted to federally insured banks by the fraudsters.

Representative Image | Getty Images | Photo by Chip Somodevilla
Check (representative image) | Getty Images | Photo by Chip Somodevilla

The accused also obtained and forged counterfeit checks in the name of the three victim banks and deposited them as well. The documents say the couple along with their co-conspirators deposited at least $794,713 worth of cashiers’ checks into Ride Now and Ben Auto accounts between March 2018 and August 2018. These funds were withdrawn and spent for their personal use and the benefit of other conspirators.

As of now, Ware and Pratt are each facing one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and eight counts of bank fraud. They face a maximum penalty of 1 million and a maximum term of supervised release of 5 years, as per the indictment. Ware was being held in the Broward Sheriff’s Office Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale and Pratt was being held at BSO’s North Broward Bureau facility in Pompano Beach.

In a similar development in South Florida in 2023, a massive $2.5 million COVID loan scam was uncovered. In the fraud, the criminals submitted fraudulent PPP loan applications, misrepresenting companies’ employees to appear eligible for the pandemic relief funds. Over 15 conspirators who obtained millions from lenders had pled guilty to the charges.