Four Bay Area Residents Charged In Gift Card Scam
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Myra B. Minks, Tiffany T. Conley, Letitia R. Mays, and Andrea C. Mohr, all residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, on June 12, 2012, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. The defendants, charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and wire fraud, as well as individual violations of the access device fraud and wire fraud statutes, allegedly used gift cards to engage in a series of fraudulent transactions at Nordstrom stores in the Bay Area and Southern California in 2011. The charges against each defendant are as follows:
- Minks, Conley, Mays, Mohr: conspiracy to commit access device fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371;
- Minks: Four counts of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(2); 3 counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343;
- Conley: One count of access device fraud; Two counts of wire fraud;
- Mohr: One count of access device fraud.
According to the indictment, which was unsealed on June 15, defendants Minks, 34, Conley, 31, Mays, 29, and Mohr, 24, are alleged to have engaged in a conspiracy to obtain merchandise and money from Nordstrom by deceiving its sales clerks into crediting Nordstrom gift cards under the guise of fictitious refund transactions. Once the gift card balances had been fraudulently credited, the defendants allegedly used the gift cards to buy merchandise and, frequently, returned the same merchandise for cash or credits to a bank card.
Conley was arrested on June 15, and made her initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco on that day. She is currently released on a $50,000 bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for July 13, 2012, at 11 a.m. before Judge Susan Illston.
Minks, Mays and Mohr made their initial appearances in federal court in San Francisco yesterday and appeared again today at 9:30 a.m. before Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins. All three remain in custody. Minks is next scheduled to appear before Judge Cousins on June 27 for identification of counsel, Mays is next scheduled to appear before United States District Court Judge Susan Ilston on June 27 for a status conference, Mohr is next scheduled to appear before Judge Cousins on June 29 for a detention hearing.
The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, is five years. The maximum penalty for access device fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(2), is 10 years (20 years, if the defendant has a prior conviction under Section 1029). The maximum penalty for wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, is 20 years. The maximum fine for a violation of each of the above-referenced statutes is $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. In addition, the penalty for each violation may include an order to pay restitution. Any sentence following conviction, however, would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Thomas E. Stevens is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rawaty Yim. The prosecution is the result of an 18-month investigation by the United States Secret Service.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Minks, Conley, Mays, and Mohr, must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.