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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-127

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

LEBANESE CREDIT CARD FRAUDSTER SENTENCED TO FOUR YEARS IN PRISON


Los Angeles, CA - A Lebanese man tied to a credit card fraud ring that bilked more than $1.7 million from credit card companies through the use of stolen Social Security numbers and fictitious names has been sentenced to four years in federal prison.

Fadi Kourani, 37, of Downey, was sentenced Monday afternoon by United States District Judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles.

Kourani pleaded guilty on June 29 to conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. The charges arose out of a search of Kourani's apartment by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during which agents found dozens of credit cards and identity profiles. Agents seized mail from six different commercial mailboxes where Kourani received mail from credit card companies in fictitious names such as "Shag Zamour" and "George Armani."

Further investigation revealed that Kourani had used stolen Social Security numbers to apply for credit cards in false names, and then used the credit cards to buy items and transfer funds among other credit cards and bank accounts. The evidence in the case showed that, among other things, Kourani took cash advances and paid $12,000 for hair implants.

During yesterday's sentencing hearing, Judge Real indicated that Kourani, an illegal alien who entered the United States from Mexico, would be deported when he completes his prison sentence.

Combating identity theft is a priority of the Justice Department. The President's Identity Theft Task Force is developing a strategy to prevent the crime and to assist individuals if they are victimized. New statutes, including the aggravated identity theft charge that Kourani pleaded guilty to and which carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence, are being used across the nation to prosecute and punish identity thieves.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received substantial assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Social Security Administration and the Criminal Investigation Division of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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Release No. 06-127

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