News and Press Releases

Man Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Possessing over 1,400 Credit Card Numbers

March 15, 2005

Las Vegas, Nev. - A man who stole approximately 1,400 credit card numbers from garbage dumpsters in the Las Vegas area was sentenced today to 63 months in federal prison for his guilty plea to Possession of Unauthorized Access Devices, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

SCOTT EDWARD WHITNEY, age 36, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty on May 10, 2004, to possessing unauthorized access devices, consisting of Visa and Mastercard credit card numbers issued by several different financial institutions. WHITNEY knowingly possessed the credit card numbers with the intent to defraud. The sentence was handed down today by Chief U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro, who also ordered the defendant to serve three years of supervised release and pay $77,000 in restitution to the victims of the offense.

"Southern Nevada's identity theft problem is serious and growing," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "Our office plans to prosecute as many of these cases as resources allow, and I hope that the message is clear to other individuals who are committing these sorts of crimes that if convicted in the federal system, you stand a very real chance of receiving a significant sentence of imprisonment."

WHITNEY was arrested on July 2, 2003, at the Budget Suites hotel on 2219 N. Rancho Drive in Las Vegas, after it was learned that an individual using that address was purchasing merchandise with unauthorized credit card numbers. Law enforcement officers determined that WHITNEY obtained numerous credit card account receipts from "dumpster diving," a practice in which individuals retrieve discarded items such as financial documents, bank statements, or discarded personal or business information, primarily from garbage dumpsters. Federal law enforcement officers with the United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, and detectives with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department recovered numerous credit card receipts, sheets of paper bearing credit card account numbers, and merchandise that WHITNEY had ordered with the unauthorized credit card numbers, from WHITNEY'S hotel room.

WHITNEY admitted in his guilty plea memorandum that he possessed 1,408 stolen credit card numbers, and that he used at least 15 of them to make unauthorized charges. Some of the items that WHITNEY purchased included appliances and clothing.

WHITNEY has been in custody since the time of his arrest. He has multiple prior criminal convictions for Forgery, Theft, Burglary, Access Device Fraud and Domestic Battery.

This case was investigated by members of the Southwestern Identity Theft and Fraud Task Force (SWIFT), formed in April 2004 to combat the rapidly-growing problem of identity theft and financial crime in the Las Vegas Valley. SWIFT is comprised of representatives of the United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, North Las Vegas Police Department, Henderson Police Department, United States Attorney's Office, and Clark County District Attorney's Office, and primarily investigates identity fraud and complex fraud cases involving criminal organizations and crimes committed utilizing emerging technology in southern Nevada. To date, the efforts of this group have resulted in federal charges against 51 individuals for crimes such as Conspiracy, Identity Theft, Production of Unauthorized Identifications, Possession of Unauthorized Access Devices (credit cards), Theft, Possession of Stolen Mail, and Bank Fraud. Twenty-five of those have pleaded guilty thus far.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas S. Dougherty.

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