Woman Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Using Stolen Credit Cards & Counterfeit ID's
Las Vegas, Nev. – A woman identified by law enforcement as an associate of several Eastern European organized crime groups was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison today following her guilty pleas to credit card fraud and possession of false identification documents, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Anca Morari Soni, age 27, of Las Vegas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan. Soni and two others, Vardan Gasparyan and Armenoui Garibian, were indicted in June 2004 and charged with one count of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized credit cards, and one count of possession of five or more false identification documents. Soni avoided application of a mandatory two-year consecutive term of imprisonment only because her offense occurred prior to the effective date of the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act passed in July 2004.
Beginning in early 2001, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in Las Vegas began investigating several Eastern-European criminal organizations involved in large-scale credit card fraud in Nevada and elsewhere in the United States. Members of the organizations stole credit cards from vehicles, gym lockers, and other locations throughout the United States. Couriers transported the stolen credit cards to Las Vegas where other members manufactured counterfeit driver's license bearing names corresponding to the names on the stolen credit cards. Equipped with the stolen cards and counterfeit driver's licenses, members traveled from casino to casino charging multiple cash advances on the cards. The investigation resulted in the indictment of four distinct enterprises, of which Soni was a known associate of three.
In June 2002, a member of one of the criminal organizations transported several stolen credit cards from Seattle to Las Vegas. Through unknown channels, Soni and her co-conspirators obtained one of those stolen credit cards, as well as 18 other stolen credit cards on or about June 21, 2002.
On June 21, 2002, FBI agents followed a member of one of the criminal organizations to a parking lot near the Gold Coast Casino where he met with Soni, Garibian, and Gasparyan. They obtained several counterfeit driver's licenses from the individual which bore Garibian's photograph but names corresponding to the stolen credit cards. The defendants then drove to the Rio Hotel and Casino where Garibian obtained a cash advance for $2,800 from one of the stolen credit cards. Soon thereafter, Soni, Gasparyan, and Garibian were detained and searched by law enforcement agents. The agents found 10 stolen credit cards, three counterfeit driver's licenses, and $5,200 in U.S. currency in Soni's wallet; two stolen credit cards and one corresponding counterfeit driver's license on Garibian; and one stolen credit card and a corresponding counterfeit driver's license on Gasparyan. Another six stolen credit cards and three counterfeit driver's licenses were found in their vehicle.
Ms. Soni is currently released on bond, but must surrender herself to federal prison no later than December 11, 2006, at 12:00 p.m. Co-defendant Garibian pleaded guilty and was sentenced in October 2005 to 33 months in prison. A change of plea hearing in co-defendant Gasparyan's case is currently set for October 12, 2006.
The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy S. Vasquez.