A 28-year-old Laurel man pleaded guilty Friday to federal bank fraud and wire fraud conspiracy charges for his involvement in impersonating other people to access their investment accounts, in addition to conspiracy to transport stolen motor vehicles to Africa.

Ghana citizen Issah Mohammed, also known as Yissa and Ali, pleaded guilty before Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein.


According to the provided plea agreement, Mohammed participated in the conspiracy Jan. 31, 2013 through May 12, 2014, acquiring stolen vehicles from other states, taking them to Maryland and then shipping them to Africa to sell. In the U.S., other conspirators involved hired individuals to steal the vehicles, using the keys to ensure the sale.

After Mohammed and conspirators bought the stolen vehicles from thieves or an intermediary, the plea agreement states, the vehicles were then taken to parking lots or other areas, referred to as "cooling spots," where they were later placed in shipping containers and taken to a port for export.

Some stolen vehicles were taken to the Port of Baltimore and sent to African countries, including Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana. Fraudulent title information was used in the process by replacing the vehicles' VIN with false VIN numbers. Mohammed and conspirators also registered Maryland-based businesses to create vehicle registration paperwork, such as false bills of sale.

According to the plea agreement, the total loss of vehicles but recovered and not recovered is estimated to be more than $200,000.

Both Mohammed and conspirators also withdrew $292,463.19 from investment accounts by using victims' email addresses, sending emails to investment account managers and requesting funds be wired to the business accounts controlled by Mohammed and the conspirators.

While taking over victims' online bank accounts, Mohammed and others also created fraudulent checks and cashier's checks for the accounts to access stolen funds, the plea agreement states. All funds from both the bank and wire fraud conspiracy were added to the sales from the stolen vehicles.

Mohammed's sentencing is scheduled in October, where he faces a maximum 30-year sentence for the bank and wire fraud conspiracy as well as a maximum five-year sentence for conspiracy to transport stolen motor vehicles.