It was an elaborate scheme that came to a screeching halt and now two New Jersey men are facing 30-years in prison for their roles in a bank fraud conspiracy, federal prosecutors said.

Baba Diakite, 20, of East Orange, and Nasir Johnson, 22, of Hillside, were arrested on charges of devising a scheme to steal and alter checks from the mail by using stolen U.S. Postal Service keys that access mail receptacles. They were also charged with fraudulently obtaining funds from banks by depositing the stolen and altered checks.

Their scheming went on for almost two years, between January of 2020 and October of 2021, and during that time, they brought in some help, allegedly conspiring with others to steal checks from Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced said.

Sellinger said that after stealing the checks, Diakite, Johnson, and others would sell them to third parties or just flat out deposit them.

On some occasions, they would also alter or duplicate the checks and then deposit them into the bank accounts of complicit accountholders, who Sellinger said, had provided them with access to their bank accounts.

Diakite allegedly stole and then used official U.S.P.S. keys to access mail, and steal checks directly from U.S.P.S. receptacles, and Johnson also had at least one of those keys as well.


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