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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

Jan. 23, 2012

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

Serial Identity Thief Convicted
Local ipad and iphone purchases lead to arrest

HOUSTON - Sharif John Reid, 36, of League City, Texas, has pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and access device fraud, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

According to court documents and the factual basis recited in court during the hearing, Reid attempted to purchase Apple iPads and iPhones at the Memorial City Apple store Aug. 7, 2011, by using several unauthorized credit card numbers. When asked to produce identification, Reid produced a fraudulent Florida driver’s license in the name of another person but bearing Reid’s photograph. Apple loss prevention officers immediately recognized the name on the card as the name used to make more than $200,000 in purchases of Apple electronic equipment using fraudulent credit card numbers at Apple store locations in Louisiana and throughout Texas. At that time, Houston Police Department (HPD) officers and Apple loss prevention officers arrested Reid. A subsequent search revealed that Reid was in possession of 18 unauthorized access devices each bearing that same name.

HPD officers inventoried the rental car Reid was driving and found 20 additional unauthorized access devices in the fraudulent name as well as one debit card in the name of Reid. HPD officers also found four iPads and four iPhones valued at more than $6,000 that had been purchased the same day at the Apple stores in the Galleria and Sugar Land using unauthorized access devices that matched the numbers found in Reid’s possession.

U.S. Secret Service (USSS) agents contacted the various banks that had issued the unauthorized access devices found in Reid’s possession. The banks, in turn, contacted the cardholders and learned the cardholders did not know Reid and had not given him permission to possess or use their credit card numbers. 

A CitiBank fraud investigator advised the USSS that the unauthorized access device numbers possessed by Reid and issued by CitiBank were some of hundreds of card numbers that had been skimmed (compromised) at a commercial business in Austin, Texas. All 38 of the access devices found in Reid’s possession were stolen or had been obtained by Reid with intent to defraud. 

In court, Reid also admitted he had been previously convicted of access device fraud in another case and was still serving a term of supervised release at the time of the commission of the offense on Aug. 7, 2011.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, who accepted the guilty plea this morning, has scheduled sentencing for April 23, 2012. At that time, Reid faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and a three-year-term of supervised release for the access device fraud conviction in addition to an additional mandatory two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft which must be served consecutively.

The matter was investigated by USSS and HPD and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James R. Buchanan.