United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
California Rap Artist Under Indictment Rearrested For Continuing Credit Card Fraud
Already Charged with Trafficking Credit Card Numbers Stolen by Hacking Seattle Businesses
A Southern California rap artist who performs under the name “Guerilla Black,” was arrested this morning following allegations he committed new financial frauds while he was on pretrial release, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. CHARLES TONY WILLIAMSON, 33, of Torrance, California, was taken into custody this morning following a lengthy investigation by the Manhattan Beach Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) Electronic Crimes Task force in Seattle and USSS Los Angeles Fraud Task Force. On June 20, 2012, WILLIAMSON was charged with 22 counts of various felony offenses including Conspiracy to Access Protected Computers to Further Fraud, to Commit Access Device Fraud, and to Commit Bank Fraud; Accessing a Protected Computer without Authorization to Further Fraud; Access Device Fraud; Bank Fraud; and Aggravated Identity Theft. The new filing alleges WILLIAMSON continued to use illegally obtained credit card numbers for fraud, even after his indictment in the Western District of Washington.
WILLIAMSON is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California today.
According to records filed in the case, Manhattan Beach Police became aware of WILLIAMSON’s ongoing frauds in mid-November 2012. Their investigation revealed that WILLIAMSON was using different ‘runners’ in the Los Angeles area to use counterfeit credit cards to purchase gift cards at a variety of stores. The runners kept some of the gift cards but allegedly returned the bulk of the ill-gotten gain to WILLIAMSON. Working with the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force in Seattle and Los Angeles, investigators were able to trace the numbers on some of the seized counterfeit cards, discovering that many of the numbers were issued by foreign banks: Corner Banca, (Switzerland); Guaranty Trust Bank (Nigeria); National Westminster Bank (England); and Poste Italiante (Italy). Because the banks are overseas, it can take longer for the fraud to be detected and the card numbers cancelled. Evidence uncovered in the case revealed WILLIAMSON was purchasing the credit card data from various “carding” sites operated by criminals in Eastern Europe.
WILLIAMSON is already indicted for a scheme where he purchased that same type of information from two co-conspirators who have already pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington. David Benjamin Schrooten, 21, a Dutch citizen arrested in Romania, where he operated a carding website, is scheduled for sentencing next month. Christopher A. Schroebel, 21, of Keedysville, Maryland, who hacked into point of sale systems to steal credit card information was sentenced to seven years in prison in August 2012.
The case is being investigated by the Manhattan Beach Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Forces in Seattle and the U.S. Secret Service Los Angeles Fraud Task Force (LAFTF). The Seattle Police Department is a key part of the Seattle Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma.