A New York lothario who goes by the name of "Geovanni Kasanova" has been arrested as the alleged ring leader in an identity theft ring that stole more than $1 million over the course of two years. His alleged main tactic: seducing bank tellers from JP Morgan Chase banks to help him steal identities.
"Kasanova," legally known as Richard Dames, 33, and five members of the alleged identity theft and cybercrime ring were indicted Thursday on 148 counts of stealing the money from at least 80 bank accounts.
"The ring both pickpocketed these victims on the street, and colluded with the bank employees, to steal personal identification that in turn enabled criminal organization to withdraw significant funds from bank branches from New York to Texas to Michigan," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. in a statement.
"It sounds sexy, but it's just a fiction," said Dames' attorney Michael Mays. "I'm not telling you he's an angel, but I'm telling you he's not some identity theft kingpin."
"If you speak to this guy for a few minutes, he's not exactly smooth or charismatic," Mays said of his client. "He's overweight and his hair was all over the place. He's sitting up in Riker's Island and is penniless. It's not exactly like he's prince charming."
Kasanova Charged With Seducing Bank Tellers in ID Theft Scam
Dames allegedly seduced Makila Williams, 25, and Kia Wylie, 30, who were working as tellers at JP Morgan Chase banks in New York.
The other three suspects are Jamaluddin Almahdi, 66, Wayne Mitchell, 42, and Ricky McCants, 30. McCants was also an employee of a JP Morgan Chase Bank.
The group was indicted on multiple felony charges, including grand larceny, identity theft and conspiracy. McCants and Wylie are also accused of numerous counts of computer trespass.
After becoming involved with Dames, the women allegedly accepted money from him to obtain personal information through the bank's computer system that allowed Dames to steal identities, according to court papers.
Mays believes Chase is using his client as a scapegoat for its own employees' misdemeanors. He said Dames has been in prison for over a year for previous charges, unable to make bail, and could not be running a crime ring from jail.
Robert Anthony Evans, the attorney for Makila Williams, said that his client is a naïve victim in this case and is "devastated" by what has happened.
"She's 25 years old, attending a college in New Rochelle, was working at TD Bank when she was arrested and had worked at Chase previously," Evans said. "She's what I call a civilian. There's no life of crime."
Evans said Williams met Dames in a Bronx bar ironically called Taboo. He said Dames introduced himself as Geovanni Kasanova, which his client believed was his real name until Evans told her otherwise on Thursday in a holding cell on Rikers Island.
"You can't make this stuff up. I'm living in a sitcom. Everyone who finished English literature knows things didn't turn out well for Casanova in the first story," Evans said. "One English literature class fixes this whole problem."
Dames allegedly bought her a drink and asked if she would join him for breakfast. He said his "assistant" would give her the number. The woman was taken in by him and they began a relationship.
Evans said Williams has no criminal background and comes from a working New York family. Her mother was a transit worker and her father was a former corrections officer.
"The last time my client did anything to get in trouble was be tardy for homeroom in 2003," Evans said.