Four-time Fraudster Sentenced to 44 Months in Prison

December 13, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland -U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Ronald Louis Coleman, age 65, of Baltimore, today to 44 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for using one or more unauthorized credit and/or debit cards. Judge Garbis also ordered Coleman to pay restitution of $102,314.54.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to Coleman’s plea agreement, from March through December 9, 2011, Coleman possessed a “skimmer” device, which he provided to an employee of a popular Baltimore restaurant so that the employee could obtain the credit card numbers from patrons of the restaurant as they paid their bills. The employee skimmed a number of cards each week, then turned the skimmer over to Coleman, who downloaded the information using a computer. Coleman used the information to encode blank cards with the stolen credit card account number, then he and others used the cards to obtain cash at ATM machines and to purchase merchandise and services.

During the same time, Coleman directed other individuals to call American Express, posing as an American Express employee, and obtain access to active and closed accounts in the American Express computer system. In this way, Coleman caused American Express to remove holds that were placed on accounts, to issues unauthorized credit cards, and to have those cards mailed to an address provided by Coleman. Coleman removed the cards from the mail, or directed others to do so, then he and others used the unauthorized cards to make purchases. A search of Coleman’s home on December 9, 2011, recovered three blank cards encoded with different American Express credit card numbers belonging to individuals living outside Maryland. The investigation showed that at least 10 American Express accounts were compromised and the total loss to American Express is between $70,000 and $120,000.

At the time of this activity, Coleman was on supervised release for a previous federal conviction related to credit card fraud, and had been convicted of similar crimes two other times.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard C. Kay, who is prosecuting the case.

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