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December 12, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


Former Ph.d. Student Sentenced To 70 Months in Federal Prison For Role In Fraud and Identity Theft Offenses

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Carlton A. Lewis, 25, of Lithonia, Ga, was sentenced on Friday, December 9,. 2011, by the Honorable Thomas W. Phillips, U.S. District Judge, to serve 70 months in federal prison for his role in an identity theft and credit card fraud conspiracy.

Throughout the conspiracy, Lewis, who was enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia, provided credit and debit card skimming devices to waitresses working in restaurants across the southeastern United States. The waitresses used those skimming devices to unlawfully obtain the credit and debit card account information of customers who provided their credit or debit cards as payment for their food and drink orders. After the waitresses had filled the skimming devices with unlawfully obtained credit and debit card account information, they returned the devices to Lewis. The waitresses were paid by Lewis based on the volume of account information that they unlawfully obtained using the skimming devices. Lewis then uploaded the unlawfully obtained credit and debit card account information to his computer and used a re-encoding device to transform Walmart prepaid money cards into counterfeit credit and debit cards. Lewis and others then used the counterfeit credit and debit cards to purchase merchandise at retail stores. Lewis’s criminal conduct was uncovered when counterfeit credit and debit cards, a credit and debit card re-encoding device, and a credit and debit card skimming device were found in his vehicle following a traffic stop performed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

“This sentence highlights the commitment of the United States to prosecute identity theft cases, whose innocent victims suffer needlessly due to this criminal conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Killian.

The investigation was led by the U.S. Secret Service, with assistance provided by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Bolitho represented the United States.

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