L.A. Man Sentenced to Over 6 Years in Prison for Using Information from Elderly Victims to Obtain Credit Cards and Buy Luxury Goods
LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man has been sentenced to 76 months in federal prison for his role in an international identity theft and credit card fraud scheme that targeted elderly victims.
Doren Harold Ward, 37, who resides in the Park La Brea district of Los Angeles, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter. In addition to the prison term, Judge Hatter ordered Ward to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution.
During yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Hatter asked Ward if he knew the credit cards belonged to real people, and despite a jury finding him guilty of six felony counts in June (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2012/084.html), Ward continued to deny that he knew the credit cards he abused belonged to 45 victims of identity theft.
“Identity theft is a serious crime that often has far-reaching effects on its victims,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This lengthy prison sentence should also have a far-reaching impact, sending a powerful message to thieves like Ward that their criminal conduct will lead to severe consequences.”
Ward has been in custody since he was arrested in October 2011. On the day of his arrest, authorities searched his apartment and found personal identifying information – including social security numbers and dates of birth – belonging to 14 victims. The evidence presented at trial earlier this year showed that Ward was involved in a conspiracy that took control of 45 credit cards, most of which belonged to elderly victims. As part of the scheme, British co-conspirators impersonated the typically elderly cardholders and asked credit card companies to send replacement cards to “mail drops” in Southern California. After the fraudulently obtained replacement cards arrived in Southern California, Ward and other members of the scheme used the credit cards to purchase or attempt to purchase more than $300,000 worth of luxury goods, including Rolex watches and items sold at Louis Vuitton, Gearys in Beverly Hills, and Ben Bridge Jeweler stores.
Even though investigators with the Costa Mesa Police Department arrested Ward in August 2011 after he tried to buy a $31,000 Rolex watch at a store in South Coast Plaza, Ward continued to use fraudulently obtained credit cards. At trial, some of the identity theft victims testified that they had no knowledge anyone was using their credit cards or identity at luxury stores in Southern California.
Previously in this case, another member of the conspiracy – Sedrick Bagby, 36, of South Los Angeles – pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Last month, Bagby was sentenced by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer to 90 months in federal prison. Judge Fisher also ordered Bagby to pay more than $288,000 in restitution.
This cases against Ward and Bagby are the product of an investigation by the Los Angeles Identity Theft and Economic Crimes (ITEC) Task Force, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service-funded task force. ITEC includes Postal Inspectors and agents from the United States Secret Service. The Costa Mesa Police Department provided substantial assistance during the investigation.
Release No. 12-147
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