Osage Beach woman admits to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft
JEFFERSON CITY – A woman pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing mail and identities in order to cash fraudulent checks at banks throughout Boone and Camden Counties.
Between December 2016 and Feb. 16, 2017, Chrystal Bernstein, 27, opened accounts at the Central Bank of the Lake of the Ozarks and at Landmark Bank using names and Social Security numbers she obtained without permission.
In federal court on Tuesday, Bernstein admitted to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. She also admitted to changing the name of the payee on some checks in order to cash them in the names of a mother and daughter in California whose identities she had also stolen.
The victims of the scheme lost nearly $14,000.
Police arrested Bernstein on Feb. 1 after finding a driver’s license, Social Security card, and credit card of another person in her car during a traffic stop. However, she was released after paying bond.
Then, on Feb. 16, Bernstein attempted to cash a check at Central Bank. As she drove home in a car with a reported stolen license plate, police arrested her again. After searching the car, officers said they found stolen checks and money orders from two additional victims.
Bernstein could face up to 30 years in federal prison without parole.