FINAL DEFENDANT ARRESTED IN LARGE-SCALE CREDIT CARD THEFT RING
October 17, 2011
Defendants Relied on Restaurant & Retail Establishment Employees to Steal Credit Card Account Information From Unsuspecting Customers
ATLANTA, GA - STEVEN MICHAEL JACKSON, 27, of Atlanta, Georgia, the last defendant in a charged credit card theft ring has been arrested and arraigned before United States Magistrate Linda T. Walker today on charges of conspiracy, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. JACKSON was released on a $25,000 bond. On August 9, 2011, a total of 11 defendants were charged in a superseding indictment with a credit card fraud and identity theft scheme involving the illegal process known as “skimming.”
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Identity theft continues to be a major problem that plagues our district and the nation at large. Many of our community members have been victimized by identity theft or know someone who has. This case highlights our Office’s determination and ongoing commitment to bring those responsible for this distressing problem to justice.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is charged with defending the nation’s mail system from illegal use. With the collaborative investigative efforts of all law enforcement agencies, we will continue to investigate and pursue those individuals who insist on defrauding unwitting victims by stealing their identities and attacking their personal well-being,” said Shelley Binkowski, Acting Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division.
“The arrest of the final co-conspirator in this case is a testament to the working relationship between our agency, the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office. We will continue to work collaboratively to bring to justice those who prey on the finances of unsuspecting citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge Reginald G. Moore, United States Secret Service - Atlanta Field Office.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: From approximately June 2009 to November 2010, the defendants obtained and possessed electronic devices referred to as “skimmers,” which are capable of copying and storing debit and credit card account information. The defendants, some of whom were employed by restaurant and retail establishments, used the skimmers to copy and store debit and credit card account numbers from unsuspecting customers. The restaurants and retail establishments included Shogun Japanese Steakhouse in Columbus, Georgia; a Krystal Restaurant in Columbus, Georgia; a McDonald’s Restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia; and Polished Nail Salon in Lawrenceville, Georgia. All of the impacted restaurants and retail establishments cooperated in the investigation.
After retrieving the debit and credit card account numbers from the skimmers and processing the data, the defendants transferred the stolen account numbers to the magnetic stripes of blank white plastic cards or gift cards using device-making equipment referred to as “encoders,” which altered the cards’ magnetic stripes to include the debit and credit card account numbers the defendants had obtained using the skimmers. The defendants subsequently used the altered cards to purchase things of value, including United States postal stamps from Automated Postal Centers throughout Georgia.
The defendants charged in the superseding indictment include:
- NORMAN URIAH SIMMONDS, 32, of Lilburn, Georgia;
- SEAN CARLOS DELOATCH, 25, of Columbus, Georgia;
- BRYAN CHARLES JONES, 32, of Atlanta, Georgia;
- VANESSA ECHEVERRY, 19, of Lawrenceville, Georgia;
- ANTONIO ESCOBAL, 33, of Columbus, Georgia;
- LAKEYSHA RENEE HILL, 25, of Columbus, Georgia;
- STEVEN MICHAEL JACKSON, 27, of Atlanta, Georgia;
- JEROME CHRISTOPHER LEDGISTER, 25, of Stockbridge, Georgia;
- DWAYNE MATTHEW NEELY, 28, of Columbus, Georgia;
- TAMICKA LASHAUN TRICE, 26, of Atlanta, Georgia; and
- CARMEN MARIE WALKER, 24, of Atlanta, Georgia.
The superseding indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Atlanta on August 9, 2011, charges 16 counts of conspiracy, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the access device fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of ten or fifteen years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the aggravated identity theft charges carry a two-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment that runs consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Not all of the defendants have been charged with each offense. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by Postal Inspectors of the United States Postal Inspection Service and Special Agents of the United States Secret Service.
Assistant United States Attorney Steven D. Grimberg is prosecuting the case. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia assisted with the investigation.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.