Leader Of Detroit-based Identity-theft Ring Sentenced
Organizer of Traveling Fraud Scheme to Serve 10.5 Years in Federal Prison
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – The lead defendant in a prosecution that resulted in felony convictions of eight Detroit residents for identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney. Charles J. Finley, 26, will serve 10.5 years in federal prison for his crimes, and was also ordered to pay restitution of $95,489 to the victims of the crime.
The investigation, which was conducted by the Grand Rapids office of the U.S. Secret Service, began in May 2012 after loss-prevention investigators of Meijer corporation became aware that teams of identity thieves were visiting stores in the Lansing and Grand Rapids area and purchasing high-value Meijer gift cards using credit cards that had been re-encoded with account data from compromised credit card accounts. The in-store cards were then used to purchase large numbers of expensive electronic devices such as iPads, iPhones, and laptop computers. Already familiar with similar “carding” schemes based on previous successful investigations, through which it had developed a close working relationship with Meijer loss-prevention specialists, the Secret Service opened an investigation that eventually identified most of the participants in this latest appearance of the fraud. The subsequent prosecution resulted in the following sentences: Sharonique S. Pointer, 22, will serve 24 months; Mark A. Houston, Jr., 24, will serve 36 months; Donald D. Peterson, Jr., 26, will serve 33 months; Gary K. Smith-Brown, Jr., 27, will serve 36 months; Adrian R. Evans, 26, will serve 75 months; and Dewain J. Clark, 29, will serve 24 months. Each defendant was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims of the offenses. Deaunte G. Finley, the last defendant to be arrested and convicted, is scheduled to be sentenced on 13 January 2014.
Commenting on the case, U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr., stressed his Office’s commitment to pursue all forms of identity-theft, which he described as one of the “most serious, and growing, forms of white-collar crime.” Said Miles, “identity theft doesn’t just cause financial harm, it damages the hard-earned reputations of productive members of society. Identity thieves who think that West Michigan is fertile ground to commit this crime are making a serious mistake. These defendants learned that fact the hard way.”
Resident Agent-in-Charge Kim Cheatle, U.S. Secret Service, echoed Miles. “This investigation demonstrated the commitment the Secret Service has to partner with private industry to pursue financial crimes cases. This case in particular had a significant community impact. We are thankful for the assistance rendered by the Meijer Corporation, and the relationship we have with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which culminated in the successful prosecution of this group.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen W. Frank, who leads the U.S. Attorney’s Office identity-theft task force.