News and Press Releases

Identity and Credit Card Thief Sentenced to 70 Months in Prison

August 5, 2008

Las Vegas, Nev. – A man who used stolen personal identification information and fraudulently obtained debit and credit cards to finance his lavish lifestyle was sentenced today to 70 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $370,819 in restitution, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Tyson Baird, 32, of Las Vegas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lloyd D. George. He pleaded guilty on April 8 2008, without the benefit of a plea agreement, to access device (credit/debit card) fraud, identity fraud, unlawful possession of equipment used to produce false identification documents, unlawful possession of 15 or more access devices, and aggravated identity theft. The Court ordered that two years of Baird's federal sentence be served consecutively with an undischarged term of state imprisonment for unrelated criminal charges.

"As this case demonstrates, persons convicted of federal charges relating to identity theft and credit card fraud face significant prison terms without the possibility of parole," said U.S. Attorney Brower.

According to the court records, in April 2006, a fraud investigator for the online payment provider, PayPal, submitted a complaint to the FBI regarding a debit card fraud scheme being perpetrated on PayPal accounts. The FBI's subsequent investigation determined that Baird was hacking into PalPal accounts, obtaining PayPal debit cards, and using them at local businesses in Las Vegas. In December 2006, agents searched Baird's house in Las Vegas and recovered approximately 50 Yahoo email accounts and corresponding passwords and 15 PayPal accounts with passwords. The Yahoo information had been used by Baird to hijack the PayPal accounts. The investigation also revealed that Baird was using false identities and fraudulent credit/debit cards for medical treatment, to purchase real estate and to secure a mortgage, and to make his house payments. Baird also used false identities and fraudulent credit/debit cards to obtain computer equipment from Sony and to rent expensive rental cars from Hertz. Baird's actions resulted in a loss to American Express of approximately $295,310; to PayPal of approximately $57,809; and to Hertz of approximately $17,700.

Also recovered from Baird's house during a December 2006 search were identification document-making equipment, MasterCard credit card numbers, American Express merchant terminals, full credit reports, and an extensive amount of computer equipment. Forensic analysis of the defendant's computer equipment revealed stolen identity packets, false identification documents bearing the defendant's and other individuals'photographs, encryption software, encrypted files, codes to decrypt files, computer hacking software, and software to hide the identity of the computer. The court documents also allege that Baird wire transferred criminal proceeds out of the United States utilizing false identities and laundered a large percentage of the illegally obtained funds through his mother's bank accounts before using the funds for his own personal benefit, including to make his house payments in a false identity.

The case was investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly M. Frayn.

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