NationsBank officials fired teller Rekia T. Boyd-Smith when, investigators say, they discovered she had helped her brother-in-law cash more than $147,000 in counterfeit checks.
Six months after leaving NationsBank, Boyd-Smith was hired as a teller by Provident Bank of Maryland, where she allegedly put the same counterfeiting scheme to work, according to federal charges filed yesterday.
Authorities yesterday arrested Boyd-Smith, 26, of the 3500 block of Lyndale Ave., in East Baltimore, charging her with bank fraud for helping cash more than $187,000 in bogus checks at the two banks.
The investigation is closely linked to an IRS fraud case in which five men, including Boyd-Smith's brother-in-law, Jacques Smith of Baltimore, were charged earlier this year with cashing more than $600,000 in tax refund checks that were mistakenly sent to a Baltimore rowhouse.
As investigators from the U.S. Inspector General's Office for Tax Administration were following the money trail in that case, they discovered the alleged counterfeiting scheme involving Boyd-Smith, say papers filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Interviews with Smith about the phony checks helped investigators bring charges in the broader IRS case.
Boyd-Smith, now a part-time worker with the U.S. Census Bureau, appeared yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey, who approved a court-appointed lawyer to represent her.
But in interviews last summer with federal investigators and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew C. White, Boyd-Smith and Smith admitted to the scheme and described how they funneled money out of strangers' bank accounts, according to an affidavit sworn to by John L. Davids, a special agent with the inspector general's office.
Smith told investigators that his sister-in-law gleaned confidential account information from legitimate bank accounts with large balances, Davids said in the affidavit. With that information, Smith created fake corporate checks that he took to Smith-Boyd's teller window to have cashed, the affidavit said.
At NationsBank, now Bank of America, Smith cashed two counterfeit checks within three days in August 1998. One was for $99,475; the other for $48,253, court papers show.
Davids' affidavit said NationsBank officials fired Smith-Boyd when they discovered the scheme, days after the counterfeit checks were cashed.
In March 1999, Smith-Boyd went to work at Provident. Less than three months later, she helped carry out the same scheme there, court records indicate. At Provident, she allegedly cashed three checks against the accounts of bank customers, totaling almost $40,000.
Smith, 28, was charged in March for his role in stealing the tax refund checks that kept arriving at a former tax preparer's office at 2429 St. Paul St. The mistake was attributed to a problem with IRS computers, court records show. The case is pending.