News and Press Releases

black market travel agents

Two men plead guilty to multi-million dollar fraud

Conspirators used stolen identities, credit cards
to purchase airline tickets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two defendants pleaded guilty today, in separate but related cases, to their roles in a conspiracy among black market travel agents who used the stolen identities of thousands of victims as part of a multi-million dollar fraud scheme to purchase airline tickets for their customers.

Ricardo Clay, 30, and Romeyo Calavarey, also known as “Malawtic Surreal,” 25, both of Atlanta, Ga., pleaded guilty in separate appearances before Chief U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr.

Clay admitted that, between March 22, 2009, and March 16, 2010, he participated in a conspiracy to defraud the domestic airline industry as well as financial institutions that issued credit and debit cards. Clay operated a black market travel agency that sold airline tickets, at a steep discount, that had been purchased with stolen credit and debit card numbers. Clay purchased the stolen information, which involved more than 250 identity theft victims, from co-conspirators in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

Clay’s use of stolen credit and debit card numbers to purchase airline tickets resulted in a loss of between $1 million and $2.5 million.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the government and Clay agree to request the maximum statutory sentence of five years in federal prison without parole.

Calavarey admitted that he participated in a separate conspiracy from Sept. 3, 2008, to May 12, 2009. Calavarey also purchased stolen credit and debit card and identity information from sources in Bangladesh.

Calavarey sold the stolen credit and debit card information to several black market travel agents, including co-defendant Sean Fleming, also known as”David Bravo” or “Pucci,” 29, of Hialeah, Fla. Calavarey also introduced Clay, Fleming and others to the Bangladesh sources, so they could purchase stolen credit anddebit card information directly.

Calavarey, who obtained stolen credit/debit card information from cardholders in dozens of states, also received at least one flight paid for with stolen credit/debit card information. Calavarey obtained an airline reservation to travel from New York, N.Y., to Atlanta. One of Calavarey’s black market travel agent customers threw him a party at Dave & Busters located in Times Square in New York, which was paid for with stolen credit and debit card information.

The total loss amount from Calavarey’s criminal activity exceeds $400,000.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Calavarey agrees not to seek a sentence of less than three years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is five years in federal prison without parole.

Fleming, along with co-defendants Kareem Nelson, 31, of Atlanta, and Alexander Lewis, also known as “Mike Gotti,” 25, of McDonough, Ga., already have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.

Fleming participated in the conspiracy as a black market travel agent who booked hundreds of fraudulent airline reservations and compromised more than 1,000 credit and debit cards, causing more than $1 million in losses to his victims.

Nelson’s primary role in the conspiracy was to obtain fraudulently purchased airline tickets for both himself and his customers from Fleming and others, whom Nelson knew had used stolen credit and debit card information.

Lewis worked at two hotels in the Atlanta area, and abused his position at the hotels to obtain credit and debit card information that he sold to Fleming and others. Lewis admitted that he stole 20 to 25 sets of credit and debit cards from one hotel, and one set of credit/debit cards from the other hotel.

Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John E. Cowles and Matt Hiller. They were investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Overland Park, Kan., Police Department, and the Kansas City Secret Service Task Force, and with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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