Houston Store Owner Convicted Of Identity Theft And Multiple Counts Of Wire Fraud
HOUSTON – Austyn Enahoro Afenkhena, 53, of Houston, has entered a plea of guilty to eleven counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Beginning in at least January 2008, and continuing through June 2013, Afenkhena obtained credit cards that were created from stolen identities, according to the information presented in court today. He would then run the cards through his store front, Phase 2 Auto Repair on Harwin Drive, in order to obtain cash.
To facilitate the scheme, Afenkhena also created fake merchant accounts under the names of Phase 2 Auto Inc., Phase 2 Automotive, ENA Auto Repair and ENA Automotive, so that he could obtain multiple credit card machines on which to run the fraudulent cards. Afenkhena often created false documentation such as invoices and receipts whenever necessary to further the scheme. He would use these documents to falsely represent to multiple banking institutions that transactions occurred at his store.
Afenkhena fraudulently received at least $350,000 as a result of his scheme.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who accepted the plea, has set sentencing for Sept. 11, 2014. At that time he faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million fine for each count of wire fraud. He also faces a mandatory two-year-term for aggravated identity theft, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Searle is prosecuting.