Maximum Security Inmate Impersonated Billionaire, Stole Millions
A maximum security inmate in a Georgia prison impersonated a well-known billionaire to steal millions of dollars.
Arthur Lee Cofield Jr., 31, was incarcerated in the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Special Management Unit -- a facility specialty designed for hardened criminals with long rap sheets -- when he seemingly assumed the identity of California billionaire Sidney Kimmel.
Kimmel is the CEO of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, the Los Angeles-based company behind popular films like Moneyball (2011), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), and Justin Timberlake's Palmer (2021).
An in-depth report on the situation was recently published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Federal authorities first began investigating Cofield in 2020, and now believe he was able to launch his scheme by obtaining contraband cell phones in order to contact Charles Schwab's customer service department.
He was able to convince representatives that he was Kimmel, ultimately arranging for $11 million to be wired to a company in Idaho to buy 6,106 American Eagle one-ounce gold coins.
Then, the cunning inmate was able to charter a private plane to transport the gold to Atlanta. Some of the funds were allegedly used to purchase a $4.4 million house in the upscale Buckhead area of the city.
Jose Morales, warden at the Special Management Unit during Cofield's incarceration there, told AJC, “Cofield was a shrewd, intelligent individual who could con you out of millions."
Although Cofield is currently only facing criminal charges in the Kimmel case, he was found to have contraband cell phones 12 times at five different Georgia prisons according to various incident reports.
Due to this track record, authorities believe that Kimmel is only the tip of the iceberg in the Cofield case.
AJC reports that at a December 2020 hearing, federal prosecutor, Scott McAfee, indicated that government officials have evidence indicating that Cofield “has figured out a way to access accounts belonging to high net worth individuals, frankly billionaires, located across the country."
McAfee specifically indicated that the criminal stole $2.25 million from an account belonging to Nicole Wertheim.
Nicole is the wife of Florida billionaire Herbert Wertheim.
Cofield reportedly used "hundreds" of illicit cell phones, some of which were obtained from prison guards, to accomplish his goal of scamming wealthy Americans.
He also posed as a man named "Archie" throughout the scheme. AJC noted that many people who dealt with him while he was using this name now wonder how they were duped.
“The whole thing was weird,” said Scott West, the architect who designed the Buckhead home that is now subject to government seizure.
West went on, “He’d disappear for a couple of weeks, then call me and say, `Sorry, I was in Mexico,’ blah, blah, blah.”
Federal agents are still searching for the remainder of Cofield's gold. They conducted a search of the house in December 2020, thinking they would find it in a built-in safe, but the investigation was a dead end.
CBS shared details about Cofield's current whereabouts. The felon is housed at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Butts County, serving a 14-year sentence for armed robbery.
He is also under indictment in Fulton County, where he has been charged with attempted murder.
What do you think about the Arthur Cofield case that has all the makings of a Hollywood movie?
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