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Press Release

Fairfax man pleads guilty to multiple scams totaling over a million dollars

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Fairfax man pled guilty today to his role in two scams that defrauded victims and retailers out of over a million dollars.

According to court documents, from Nov. 19, 2020, to Aug. 13, 2023, Sunyu Qian, 31, participated in a scheme to con people into purchasing gift cards that he used to acquire high-value items. Members of a criminal organization contacted individuals, mostly elderly victims, across the United States via telephone or email and, through a variety of false pretenses, convinced them to purchase gift cards from large retailers and convey the gift card information to the fraudsters, including Qian. The value of the cards could be aggregated by Qian to purchase electronics, which Qian then shipped to his co-conspirators. During this scheme, Qian used approximately $1.1 million through unauthorized access.

From April 19, 2023, to March 23, 2024, Qian engaged in another scheme using counterfeit price tags to purchase large containers of baby formula at the lower price of a much smaller cans of baby formula. For instance, on April 19, 2023, Qian scanned counterfeit price tags for 13oz cans of formula priced at $4.99 each that he had placed on larger containers of the same formula priced at $62.99 each. Qian would then deliver the baby formula to co-conspirators who paid him in cash. During this scheme, Qian defrauded two retailers of a total of at least $124,000.

Qian’s total culpability over the two schemes is approximately $1.25 million.

Qian pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 18 and faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Derek W. Gordon, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Hood is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:24-cr-60.


Press Officer

Updated May 15, 2024

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud