CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced Cyianna Ashley Woods, 38, of Atlanta, Georgia, to 60 months in prison yesterday on wire fraud and money laundering charges, for executing a scheme that defrauded more than 300 Walmart stores of over $850,000, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Bell also ordered Woods to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $923,915 in restitution.
Judge Bell previously sentenced Woods’s codefendant, Andre Marquese White, 35, of Norcross, Georgia, to 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in the conspiracy.
Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in North Carolina and South Carolina, joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King said, “This criminal duo engaged in an extensive scheme that defrauded Walmart of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This type of financial crime impacts not only affected retailers but also consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.”
“This individual’s long-running and widespread scheme has been thwarted and now she will be held accountable for her crimes.” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Martinez. “Unlawful activity like this hurts businesses and results in higher costs to consumers. This case should serve as a warning to others thinking they can get away with schemes like this that HSI and our law enforcement and private sector partners are watching.”
According to filed court documents and the sentencing hearing, from 2013 to 2019, Woods and White organized and executed a counterfeit bank check and wire fraud scheme against 300 Walmart stores in 24 states, including stores located in Iredell, Catawba, Mecklenburg, Anson, Gaston, and Buncombe Counties in North Carolina. To perpetuate the fraud, the defendants made counterfeit checks, which appeared as legitimate bank checks, that they then cashed at various Walmart stores. In this manner, over the course of the scheme the defendants obtained more than $850,000 in pre-paid debit cards, gift cards, Walmart shopping cards, and other merchandise. Court records also show that, the defendants further laundered the illegal proceeds by purchasing pre-paid debit cards from other retail stores. Both Woods and White previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges.
U.S. Attorney King thanked HSI for their investigation of the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Savage, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.