A Georgia gang inmate serving 14 years for armed robbery allegedly impersonated a billionaire while locked up in a maximum-security prison and stole $11million – using the cash to buy a mansion in Atlanta.
Arthur Lee Cofield Jr, is accused of accessing the accounts of Sidney Kimmel, whose entertainment company is behind films such as ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and ‘Moneyball’, from inside a Georgia prison with the help of contraband cell phones.
Cofield, 31, is said to have stolen the identity of the movie mogul, who is worth $1.5billion, and then moved an eight-figure-sum out of his account to purchase a $4.4million property, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The scheme is believed to amount to one of the largest heists pulled off from inside an American prison.
At a previous bond hearing, federal prosecutors also said evidence suggested Cofield stole $2.25million from an account belonging to Nicole Wertheim, the wife of Florida billionaire Herbert Wertheim, the Journal reported.
Cofield, Eldridge Bennett, 65, and his daughter, Eliayah Bennett, 27, have all pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering.
Cofield was able to obtain multiple means of identification for Sidney Kimmel by using a contraband cell phone and subsequently gained access to his Charles Schwab account in June 2020.
He impersonated the billionaire on the phone to a customer service representative in order to open a checking account.
With access to Kimmel’s driving license, a utility bill and the help of a co-conspirator outside of prison, he was able to complete the verification process.
Soon after he purchased 6,106 American Gold Eagle one-ounce coins for $10,998,859.92 from Money Metals Exchange, LLC.
He was able to hire private security team to transport the coins via a private plane to Atlanta on June 13, 2020.
By July, Eldridge Bennett and Eliayah Bennett found a six-bedroom house in Buckhead and offered the owner $4.4million to purchase their property, giving approximately $720,000 in cash as down payment.
On September 1, 2020, Eldridge Bennet gave the remaining $3.7 million in cash to the landowner, federal authorities alleged, according to the AJC.
Cofield reportedly had been transferred to the Special Management Unit after allegedly ordering from inside a Georgia state prison for gang members to gun down one of his romantic rivals in Atlanta.