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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 4, 2015

Illinois Man Sentenced on Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Charges

St. Louis, MO – TYRELLE A. PHILLIPS, Herrin, IL, was sentenced to 39 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution to the identified victims of the scheme.  He was sentenced on multiple identity theft and credit card charges, resulting in excess of $62,000 of losses in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

According to court documents, on September 16, 2014, O’Fallon, Missouri, police officers were in a local Walgreens Store in order to obtain surveillance photos of individuals who had been purchasing prepaid gift cards with counterfeit credit cards.  Coincidentally, Tyrelle A. Phillips, had traveled from Kentucky to the St. Louis area to use counterfeit credit cards to buy gift cards.  While the officers were in the store, they observed Phillips attempting to purchase prepaid Visa gift cards in separate transactions using multiple credit cards.  Due to their familiarity with the scheme and the fact that Phillips’ appearance matched that of an individual suspected of the crime, the officers stopped Phillips.  

During a search of his vehicle, the officer found a laptop computer with a card writing machine and five fraudulently purchased gift cards valued at $500 each.  Phillips explained that he used the laptop computer and a magnetic strip reader/writer device to produce the counterfeit cards.  According to Phillips, he had been receiving text messages containing three to four stolen credit or debit card account numbers from an associate in California for more than six months.  In particular, during a trip to the St. Louis metropolitan area in August, Phillips estimated making fraudulent purchases of approximately $10,000 in several local municipalities.  His role was to produce counterfeit cards and use them to purchase gift cards in large denominations in exchange for 50% of the proceeds.

An inspection of his cellular telephone revealed multiple text messages received within the last two weeks containing a total of 96 account numbers.  A review of his computer allowed the officers to track his travel to multiple cities in California, Oregon, Illinois, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Oregon, between July 30, 2014 and his arrest on September 16, 2014.

Phillips appeared Monday for sentencing before United States Senior District Judge E. Richard Weber, in St. Louis.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, O’Fallon and Maryland Heights Police Departments and the St. Charles County Cyber Crime Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Berry handled the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Updated May 7, 2015