TRENTON, NJ — A Scotch Plains woman indicted last year as a leader in an auto-theft trafficking network has been charged in a separate scheme to steal $241,000 from an online lending company.
Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced that Tyisha Brantley, 37, was charged with computer criminal activity, attempted theft by deception and falsifying records for allegedly used her work computer at Pfizer Inc. to create and send phony bank statements to iLoan Residential Mortgage lending in an attempt to obtain a $241,000 mortgage to purchase a home in Newark.
The scheme, allegedly carried out between July and October 2015, was discovered during a forensic search of Brantley’s computer files at Pfizer, where she was employed as an executive assistant. The search was conducted in August 2016, after Brantley’s employers learned she had been charged with first-degree promotion of organized street crime and other offenses related to a stolen auto ring that preyed on people selling their vehicles on Craigslist.
“We allege that while she was supervising a network of car thieves, this defendant was also scheming to steal nearly a quarter million dollars from an online mortgage lender,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Her alleged conduct demonstrates a blatant contempt for the law that will not be tolerated.”
“Financial companies doing business online should not have to worry about being victimized by criminal predators looking for their next big score,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. “We will aggressively prosecute anyone who uses a computer as an instrument of crime, as this defendant allegedly did.”
In August 2016, Brantley, along with her boyfriend and another woman, were charged with masterminding a criminal network responsible for the theft of ten vehicles between May and November of 2015. The cars, valued at $248,650 in total, were sold to dealerships for a $107,250 profit.
Thirteen others were also indicted for their alleged roles in the criminal scheme that was brought down by a multi-jurisdictional investigation dubbed “Operation Title Flip.”
According to prosecutors, when Pfizer executives learned of Brantley’s criminal indictment, they directed a company security team to seize her work laptop and phone to see if they contained any incriminatory evidence.
A forensic search of Brantley’s files and emails yielded information allegedly linking Brantley to the mortgage scheme.
According to the charges, documents found in Brantley’s files indicate that between July 2015 and October 2015 she used her computer to alter bank account statements in an attempt to obtain a mortgage loan online.
Brantley allegedly used computer software to alter two statements from her boyfriend’s bank account; adding her name as an account holder and changing the account balance from $-525.05 to $15,933. She then allegedly used the computer to email, from her work account, the fraudulent statements to the lending company, which ultimately did not approve the loan.
In an indictment handed up by a grand jury two weeks ago, Brantley was charged with second-degree computer criminal activity, second-degree attempted theft by deception and two counts of fourth-degree falsifying records.
The 2016 indictment of Brantley also charged her with leader of an auto theft network, conspiracy, impersonation, and theft by deception, all in the second degree, as well as attempted theft by deception in the third degree.
The indictments are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. First-crimes carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $500,000; second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000, fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Deputy Attorney General Colin Keiffer presented the case to the grand jury. Detective Kahlil McGrady coordinated the investigation with assistance from Analysts Gregory Nolan and Terry Worthington. Attorney General Porrino thanks the Pfizer Computer Forensics and Technical Investigations team for their assistance in the investigation.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Iu noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.