Philadelphia Woman Sentenced To More Than Three Years For Identity Theft
SAN JOSE – Vernina Adams was sentenced today to 38 months in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
On January 9, 2013, pursuant to a plea agreement with the government, Adams pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Adams admitted that beginning in March 2010, and continuing to approximately June 2010, she carried out a scheme to defraud Paymate, which was a credit card processing company for people who bought and sold goods on the Internet located in Woodside, Calif.
As part of her guilty plea, Ms. Adams, 31, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, admitted that she had created several fictitious businesses on the Internet using the names of other people without authorization, and also opened bank accounts for each of those fictitious businesses, again using the names of real people without authorization. Adams also admitted that she had opened Paymate accounts in the names of those fictitious Internet businesses. She then used her own credit cards, as well as credit cards belonging to her relatives and friends, to pretend to purchase goods and services in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $7,000 from the fictitious businesses. Paymate processed those payments.
After Paymate deposited funds from the fraudulent sales into the bank accounts associated with the fictitious businesses, Adams immediately withdrew the fraudulently-acquired funds from various automated teller machines in Pennsylvania. She then contacted the credit card companies and reported that she had not received the goods or services. Adams also instructed her friends and relatives to do the same. The credit card companies then initiated a “charge-back” and recovered the amounts fraudulently charged from Paymate. When Paymate attempted to reclaim the funds from the bank accounts associated with the fictitious businesses, there were insufficient funds in the bank accounts because Adams had already withdrawn all of the money from the purported sales.
Adams, was indicted on July 25, 2012. She was charged with five counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A(a)(1)(A) and 1028A(c)(5). Under the plea agreement, Adams pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
The sentence was handed down by The Honorable Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Court Judge. Adams was also sentenced to a three-year period of supervised release and ordered to pay $32,500 in restitution to Paymate. Adams will begin serving the sentence on January 24, 2014.
Susan Knight is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Tracey Andersen. The prosecution is the result of a one-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.