News and Press Releases

black market travel agents

New york man pleads guilty to multi-million dollar fraud

conspirators used stolen identities, credit cards
to purchase airline tickets

October 14, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a New York, N.Y., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy among black market travel agents who used the stolen identities of thousands of victims as part of a multi-million dollar fraud scheme to purchase airline tickets for their customers.

Termain Brice, 31, of New York, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr., to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

Brice admitted that he acted as a black market travel agent. Brice used stolen credit and debit card information to purchase airline reservations for his customers. Brice charged his passengers far less than the value of a legitimately purchased reservation. Brice profited from the scheme by purchasing the stolen credit and debit card information of the identity theft victims at a nominal cost, then using the stolen information to purchase the airline tickets that he sold to his customers.

According to today’s plea agreement, Brice caused a loss to more than 250 victims, which totaled more than $1 million.

Brice obtained stolen credit and debit card information from a variety of sources, including his former place of employment and sources in Bangladesh.

Brice primarily booked airline tickets using the Internet connection at his apartment in New York. However, on at least one occasion, Brice engaged in this activity at Kansas City International Airport, using the wi-fi Internet connection within the airport terminal. Brice generally purchased reservations close to the time of departure, in order to increase the likelihood that the airlines, credit card or debit card companies, or identity theft victims would not detect the fraudulent purchases, and have the tickets canceled. As a result, a passenger in Brice’s scheme could often complete his or her trip before the credit or debit card was detected as being compromised.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the government and Brice agree to request a sentence of seven years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

Brice is the sixth defendant to plead guilty to related black market travel conspiracies. Co-defendants Kareem Nelson, 31, and Romeyo Calavarey, also known as “Malawtic Surreal,” 25, both of Atlanta, Ga., Sean Fleming, also known as”David Bravo” or “Pucci,” 29, of Hialeah, Fla., and Alexander Lewis, also known as “Mike Gotti,” 25, of McDonough, Ga., also have pleaded guilty. In a separate but related case, Ricardo Clay, 30, of Atlanta, also has pleaded guilty.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John E. Cowles and Matt Hiller. They were investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Overland Park, Kan., Police Department, and the Kansas City Secret Service Task Force, and with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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