Former Santander Bank employee admits role in bank fraud scheme

PROVIDENCE – A former Santander Bank employee pleaded guilty to her role in a scheme to create fraudulent personal and business checks, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Zachary A. Chunha announced Tuesday.  

Isha-Lee Savage, one of 11 individuals, including three bank employees, who were indicted on Nov. 22, 2021, in alleged counterfeit checks and bank fraud schemes, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  

Savage admitted that while employed at the bank, she accessed customer information and check images and provided screenshots of that information to Richard Kobi, 27, of Providence. Savage also admitted to using her position working in the bank’s call center to ask customers to provide their debit card information, which Savage then provided to her co-conspirators so that they could make fraudulent purchases. 

Kobi used the stolen information to create fraudulent checks that he deposited into his own bank account or that he provided to other individuals he solicited on Facebook and paid to deposit the checks into bank accounts they controlled. After the checks were deposited, Kobi and others made or attempted to make rapid withdrawals of cash from ATMs or bank tellers.  

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Members of the conspiracy created and deposited approximately $330,000 worth of counterfeit checks, according to court documents. 

On Jan. 19, Savonnah Briggs, a former Citizens Bank employee, pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme. She pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. 

Briggs is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25. Savage is due to be sentenced on May 2. 

Kobi pleaded guilty on April 27, 2022, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, 10 counts of bank fraud and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced in December 2022 to three years in federal prison.