TACOMA MAN CHARGED WITH WIRE FRAUD AND AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT FOR INTERNET CREDIT CARD SCAM
Man Used Credit Card Information from Records Provided by an Insider at a Tukwila Hotel
STEPHEN SMITH, 25, of Tacoma Washington, was arrested yesterday on charges of Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. SMITH had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Tacoma before Magistrate Judge Karen Strombom who ordered him detained pending trial. SMITH allegedly used other people’s credit card numbers and personal information to order luxury items on-line, such as Rolex and Cartier watches, expensive jewelry and autographed sports memorabilia. If convicted, SMITH could be sentenced to 5 years in prison on the Wire Fraud and a mandatory consecutive 2 years in prison for the Aggravated Identity Theft. Identity theft cases are a priority area of prosecution in the Western District of Washington.
According to the criminal complaint, SMITH arranged for an employee of the Hampton Inn in Tukwila to steal the credit card slips of some 400 guests who had stayed at the hotel. SMITH used that credit card information to order thousands of dollars worth of merchandise on-line. He had the items shipped to various addresses in Pierce County. SMITH allegedly used some of the items himself, and sold or pawned other items for cash. The complaint states that SMITH also traded some of the items for drugs. Between August 2007, and November 2007, SMITH succeeded in obtaining some $93,000 worth of merchandise using the stolen credit card numbers and personal information. He ordered another $95,000 in merchandise but delivery was prevented when the scheme was discovered. The criminal complaint indicates that SMITH discovered and utilized various methods of circumventing security measures to have the items shipped to locations of his selection.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and Postal Inspection Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Hermanns.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.