SALISBURY- A Salisbury woman this week pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft after scamming dozens of victims and as many as 13 financial institutions in a check and credit card scam dating back to last spring and summer.
Carla Nicole Koester, 38, of Salisbury, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to mail fraud and aggravated theft and now faces as many as 20 years in prison. According to her plea agreement, Koester stole checks and credit cards from homes and mailboxes across Wicomico County and the Eastern Shore for a period of several months from last April to August.
During the scam, Koester would alter the checks and use them to obtain money from banks and financial institutions, or to obtain goods from commercial retailers across the Lower Shore. All in all, Koester defrauded 26 individuals and 13 banks during the scam, that stretched from Wicomico, Somerset, Dorchester, Talbot and Anne Arundel counties before she took the show on the road into Delaware and Virginia.
According to court documents, Koester would approach individuals at their homes and ask if they needed help. Once inside the home, Koester stole checks and other financial instruments. In some cases, after working in the victims’ homes, she would return later and burglarize the residences to obtain checks, cash and credit cards. In other cases, she stole checks from resident’s mailboxes.
Koester would either issue the checks to herself and cash them in her own name, or issue checks from one victim to another victim, and obtain money from banks by using the victim’s name and signature. In addition, video footage from a Wal-Mart in the target area captured Koester paying for several items with a fraudulent check.
Koester faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for mail fraud, and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for aggravated identity theft, consecutive to any sentence imposed for mail fraud. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake has scheduled sentencing for September 21.