Two Men Who Operated Credit Card Fraud Rings Based In San Gabriel Valley Sentenced To Federal Prison
LOS ANGELES – A San Gabriel Valley man involved in credit card fraud was sentenced this morning to 87 months in federal prison for heading a credit card fraud ring that used stolen credit card numbers from around the world to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of luxury goods, cosmetics, electronics and other merchandise at retail stores.
With the 7¼-year sentence, Zhanghang Wu (吳章航) becomes the second man this month sentenced to prison in federal court in Los Angeles for operating a fraudulent credit card ring.
Wu, 38, who at the time of the offenses was residing in Alhambra, was sentenced by United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt. Wu, who was also known as "Leo Han," pleaded guilty in December 2012 to conspiracy and credit card fraud.
The second credit card scammer, Xiaoliang Chen (陳曉亮), 27, of Monterey Park, was sentenced on November 4 to 51 months in federal prison for leading a similar operation that used stolen credit card numbers and counterfeit cards to bilk financial institutions from around the world.
The operations involving Wu and Chen involved losses that are estimated to be approximately $1.5 million, with Wu being responsible for just over $1 million of those losses.
Wu and Chen each led rings that received credit card numbers that had been stolen from bank customers around the world. That stolen information was used to manufacture counterfeit credit cards that bore the names of “runners” -- co-conspirators who went to retails stores, including Nordstrom, Macy’s, Apple, and Abercrombie & Fitch -- who used the fake cards to make fraudulent transactions. After the runners purchased items with the counterfeit credit cards, they either returned the goods for credit, or the goods were sold to other parties.
An investigation into fraudulent credit card use in the San Gabriel Valley led by the United States Secret Service generated information that Wu and Chen may be involved in organized fraud rings. Wu had earlier been associated with a credit card fraud operation that had been uncovered during an investigation by Chinese authorities. In March 2012, Secret Service agents searched the homes of Wu and Chen, where they discovered machines for making credit cards and computers containing credit card information.
In July 2012, Secret Service agents arrested Wu in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had fled after the search of his residence and where he continued to engage in credit card fraud. Wu had been living in casino hotels for several weeks, and at the time of his arrest was in the process of sending a group of runners to Chicago to continue the scheme.
Chen was arrested in August 2012, also in Las Vegas, by Secret Service agents.
During the course of the investigation, the Secret Service received information from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, Economic Crimes Investigation Division, about their investigation of credit card fraud in China.
Joseph Beaty, the special agent in charge of the United States Secret Service, Los Angeles District, acknowledged the cooperation provided by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and the People’s Republic of China. Without the assistance of the Chinese authorities, the complete investigation and prosecution of this case would not have been possible, Beaty said.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service, which also received assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Release No. 13-133a