Okay, sure, this isn't exactly a Bonnie and Clyde tale. No gun play. No one shot or killed. But it does involve a man and a woman on the road together and a modern-day form of robbery using online scams and bogus bank accounts.
From May to June 2012, Aleksandr Kunkin, 40, and Beatrix Boka, 34, both of Hungary took something of a tour of North and South Carolina. Well, maybe not so much to see the tourist sites as to visit various Bank of America branches.
And what might two visitors from Hungary find so fascinating about Carolina banks? Well, in this case, the branches presented a lovely opportunity to provide false identities as part of a scheme to open accounts. In fact, using counterfeit Hungarian passports and other bits of subterfuge, they opened 15 accounts, each under a different name.
Why all that bother?
Apparently, Kunkin and Boka were part of a conspiracy that had fraudulently listed vehicles for sale at online marketplaces such as eBay. If you found these listings and indicated an interest in going forward with a purchase, the conspirators sent you an email with wiring instructions Now where oh where do you think you were told to send your deposit or purchase price? Bingo!!! You got it! To one of the Bank of America accounts that these rip-off artists had opened.
How many folks fell for this scam? Apparently, this Hungarian flim-flam victimized 36 folks to the tune of some $550,102.50. Of course, not a single vehicle was ever delivered.
At some point, though, when you feel the tug, you just gotta know that the string has run out and you probably should pack it in. Unfortunately, Kunkin just didn't seem to know when enough was enough.
In June 2012, Kunkin was arrested at a Bank of America branch in lovely Madison, TN - well, at the time,it was actually "Dennis Miller" (according to the Hungarian passport) who was being stopped by Nashville Police. Apparently Bank of America had sent out a warning about Kunkin and one alert branch employee tipped off the cops when the Hungarian-passport-bearing customer walked in. So we got Kunkin pretending to be Dennis Miller in a Madison, TN Bank of America branch.
Maybe Kunkin coulda pulled it off if he just put a tad more effort into his cover story.
What apparently proved to be his undoing was his response to a police officer's request for him to spell his name: D-A-N-N-I-S and M-E-L-L-E-R sort of blew the whole gig. There's no "A" in Dennis. There should have been an "I" in Miller.
Initially, the failed spelling test got Kunkin charged locally with two counts of forgery under $500. In August 2012 the big guns game into play when he was indicted by a federal grand jury.
Although Boka seems to have been with Kunkin during his ill-fated visit to Madison, TN, she didn't get nabbed there by the local authorities. Alas, it was a short lived reprieve. Boka was subsequently apprehended at a Bank of America branch in Kennesaw, GA, when she attempted to open an account with a bogus Hungarian passport.
On November 15, 2012, and November 21, 2012, Kunkin and Boka, respectively, pleaded guilty in federal court in Nashville to one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. They each faced a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
On March 08, 2013, Boka was sentenced to 36 months in prison; Kunkin got 48 months. Also, both defendants were each sentenced to serve two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $464,581 in restitution.
Bill Singer's Comment
One of the truly wonderful aspects of this story is that a police officer had the presence of mind to question Kunkin and to devise (on the spot) a pretty clever spelling test, which tripped the bad guy up and may have prevented more victims from getting hurt. It is my understanding that the quick-thinking officer was James Dallas Caruth of the Metro Nashville Police. It's comforting to know that someone is on the beat with enough savvy to get the job done. Hopefully there's a Detective's shield in the future for Officer Caruth. Job well done!