Children’s Stolen Identities Fueled Man’s 3.3 Million-Dollar Scheme
Photo: Turhan Lemont Armstrong
LOS ANGELES – A San Fernando Valley man received over 21 years in federal prison for a long-running scheme using children’s stolen identities. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner ordered Turhan Lemont Armstrong (50) of Northridge to pay $3,305,609 in restitution, along with the
forfeiture of two homes – one in Northridge, the other in Perris – purchased with illicit funds obtained from the scheme.
Armstrong oversaw the $3.3 million credit card, loan and real estate financial-fraud ruse using stolen
identities – primarily those of children. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles conducted the investigation, with substantial assistance provided by Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, the Miami-Dade Police Department, and the North Miami Beach Police Department.
Stolen identities had been used to open bank accounts, set up shell companies, purchase homes and
cars, obtain credit cards, and apply for loans. Social Security numbers of individuals who’d left the United States were favored, as monitoring their credit would be less likely.
Additionally, “collusive merchants” maintained point-of-sale terminals which allowed scheme-members to make fraudulent cash withdrawals. Not only had Armstrong and his co-conspirators used fraudulent facts to apply for loans, nationwide – they secured loans for vehicles formerly exported out of the U.S.
While none of the above-mentioned income was reported to the IRS during 2009 – 2017, Armstrong
maintained homes in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood of Northridge, CA, Florida, and Georgia.
Armstrong managed to evade an arrest at his Georgia apartment in late 2017 – pursuant to the
Law enforcement nabbed him three days later as he left his house in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Nationwide
search warrants were executed at Armstrong’s three homes and two L.A.-area storage units.
Discovered were false-ID documents, lists of Social Security numbers, and hundreds of credit cards under various names.
“[Armstrong’s] criminal conduct was more than a series of bad decisions – it was a way of life,”
prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. “The victims of [Armstrong’s] crimes run the gamut: banks, credit card issuers, car dealerships, utility companies, and the people all over the country whose identities [he] stole.”
Total losses to the victims in this case is $3,305,609, according to court documents. All 51 counts of the federal grand-jury indictment were pronounced guilty by a jury in May 2019.
The results of the 2-week trial found Armstrong guilty-as-charged for conspiracy to commit financial
institution fraud, making false statements to financial institutions, conspiracy to commit money
laundering, money laundering, conspiracy to commit access device (credit card) fraud, access device
fraud, interstate transportation of stolen vehicles, and aggravated identity theft.
U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Major Frauds, General Crimes and Asset Forfeiture sections prosecuted this case.
Armstrong’s cohorts, co-defendants Mounir Deiri (59) of Van Nuys, and Andres Velarde (57) of Culver
City, pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges in this case. They’re serving federal prison sentences of 51
months and 60 months, respectively.
Armstrong was sentenced to 259 months in federal prison.