Columbia Man Sentenced to Over 2 Years in Credit Card Fraud Scheme
COLUMBIA MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 2 YEARS IN CREDIT CARD FRAUD SCHEME
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Ronald Vorel, age 39, of Columbia, Maryland, to 27 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for mail fraud arising from a scheme to defraud retailers of more than $224,000 in merchandise obtained under false pretenses, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Quarles also ordered Vorel to pay restitution of $224,029.62.
According to his guilty plea, from at least 2002 to 2004, Vorel used credit cards to order large amounts of merchandise throughout the country via the internet or phone from various companies. He used fictitious names to purchase products. Vorel also denied receiving large amounts of merchandise, resulting in at least one case, in job reassignment for a person responsible for delivering some of the merchandise. Vorel’s claims that he had not received merchandise also caused retailers to send duplicate items that compounded their losses.
Sometimes Vorel falsely claimed that the merchandise was defective. Vorel purported to return a product, asking the merchant to credit his credit card account, when in fact he did not return the product, returned a cheaper product purchased from another merchant, or returned empty boxes to the merchant. For example, Vorel asked for a credit of approximately $7,000 for two leather chairs that he claimed to have never received; but police officers seized the leather recliners from his apartment in October 2004.
According to information the government presented to the court, one merchant victim was forced to close after 11 years of business. In August of 2003, Vorel placed an order with a pet store in Washington for two parrots valued at approximately $3,600. He paid by credit card. In September, the store owner and her mother traveled some 300 miles to Seattle, Washington and arranged for safe shipment of the parrots by airplane to the BWI Airport in Baltimore. A personal friend of Vorel signed for and took custody of the parrots at BWI. Thereafter, Vorel disputed the charge and emailed the store stating that he did not receive the birds. The credit card company issued a chargeback and $3,599.98 was taken from the store’s account. The store suffered a total loss including legal fees of $7,082.97, and moreover, was “blackmarked” by VISA/Master Card as a high risk merchant, causing major financial damage.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for its investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Harry Gruber, who is prosecuting the case.