News and Press Releases

Man Charged With Fraud For Claiming Credit Card Charges A Result Of Identity Theft

March 3, 2006

Reno, Nev. – A Reno resident has been charged by the Federal Grand Jury with Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud and False Statements for claiming that approximately $48,000 in credit card charges and other debt owed to the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) was incurred by an unknown person and that he was a victim of identity theft, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

SEAN STEPHEN SPITLER, age 28, of Reno, Nevada, was indicted by the Grand Jury on Wednesday, March 1, 2006, and charged with three counts of Mail Fraud, two counts of Wire Fraud, and one count of (Making a) False Statement. He was arrested by Special Agents of the Transportation Security Administration on March 2, 2006, and had his initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the same date. He was released on a personal recognizance bond pending trial. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each fraud charge, and up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the false statement charge.

According to the Indictment, on about September 25, 1997, SPITLER opened an NFCU account while he was deployed by the United States Navy in Yokosuka, Japan. From about September 25, 1997, to July 21, 2000, SPITLER borrowed approximately $48,000 from NFCU through an automobile loan, credit card account, and line of credit. In about December 2000, he stopped making payments on the funds he borrowed. On about July 14, 2005, he notified NFCU that he did not open the accounts and that he had been the victim of identity theft.

From about May 2000 to May 2001, SPITLER was employed by First Alarm Security in California; from about August 2002 to November 2005, he was employed by St. Mary's Hospital in Reno, Nevada, as a security guard; and from about May 21, 2005, to November 4, 2005, he was employed by the Department of Homeland Security as a Transportation Security Administration Security Screener.

SPITLER allegedly executed the scheme to defraud by mailing various letters to NFCU and credit card companies, claiming that he was a victim of identity theft and that the credit card charges were incurred by an unknown person. SPITLER allegedly prepared a letter on Department of Homeland Security letterhead in the name of a fictitious employee stating that he was deployed overseas on military duties during the time frame in which the credit card accounts were used, and filed a false police report in Washoe County claiming he was the victim of identity theft. When interviewed by Department of Homeland Security investigators in November 2005, SPITLER also claimed he was the victim of identity theft.

The case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Craig S. Denney.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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