Brothers Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Defrauding Banks and Merchants in Counterfeit Check/Credit Card Case
Las Vegas, Nev. – Two California men were sentenced to five years in federal prison today for their guilty pleas to defrauding federally-insured banks and merchants in Nevada of over $5 million, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
"Identity theft and credit/debit card fraud is a significant problem in Nevada," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "Federal, state and local investigators are continually working together to catch the individuals who are stealing personal identifying information and using it to manufacture counterfeit cards. To protect yourself, review activity on your financial accounts regularly and report any fraudulent activity as soon as possible in order to assist the authorities identify and prosecute these thieves. "
Adam Amadeo Battani, aka Ayman Ahmed El-Assadi, 35, and his brother, Sam Amadeo Battani, aka Wissam Ahmed El-Assadi, 34, of Long Beach, California, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson. Judge Dawson also ordered the men to pay $5.3 million in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release following release from prison. They had each pleaded guilty on March 2, 2011, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, credit/debit card fraud, and money laundering.
From about January 2002 to March 2010, Adam Battani and Sam Battani devised a scheme to steal money and goods from merchants and financial institutions using unauthorized credit cards, along with false identification documents and counterfeit checks which they unlawfully produced. The defendants relocated the fraudulent scheme from California to other areas, including Las Vegas, to evade law enforcement. The defendants opened bank accounts and credit card accounts, as well as post office boxes in the Las Vegas area, using multiple fictitious identities. The defendants funded the bank accounts with counterfeit checks drawn on fictitious business entities and banks, and used the fraudulent accounts and unauthorized credit cards to unlawfully obtain cash, goods and services. The defendants laundered the proceeds of the criminal enterprise through other bank and credit card accounts, which were also established using fictitious identities. Ultimately, the defendants caused the monies and funds to be transferred to accounts they controlled and used the monies for their own personal benefit. The plea agreement states that the defendants derived over $1 million from the financial institutions and over $5.3 million in total using this scheme.
The government seized in the case multiple computers, printers, memory cards, cameras, cell phones, 50 counterfeit drivers licenses, 24 social security cards, 44 unauthorized credit cards, and about $10,000 from nine bank accounts held in different names.
The investigation was sponsored by President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and FBI, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly M. Frayn.