Final Defendant Sentenced for Million-Dollar Credit Card Fraud Scheme Involving Arlington Coffee Shop
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two Washington D.C. women and a Clinton, Maryland, man were sentenced for their roles in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
According to court documents, from at least May 2016 until Oct. 2016, Adiam Berhane, 50, conspired to carry out a fraud scheme with Tiffany Younger, 51, and Keith Lemons, 56, involving stolen credit card information that was used to purchase gift cards, expensive luxury goods, and other items from local retail stores. Berhane would obtain stolen identities of residents of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and elsewhere for the creation of fraudulent credit cards. The fraud caused over hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses to area retailers and financial institutions.
Younger and Lemons were recruited by Berhane to make purchases using fraudulent credit cards. As part of the scheme, items purchased with victims’ credit card information would sometimes be returned for refunds to bank accounts that Berhane controlled. In addition to fraudulently purchasing items and receiving fraudulent refund proceeds to her bank accounts, Berhane used fraudulent payment cards to purchase gift cards at retail stores which were then redeemed at her business, Caffe Aficionado, in Arlington. More than a third of Caffe Aficionado’s income from June 2013 to July 2016 came from a pattern of highly unusual redemptions of American Express gift cards, with the pattern beginning several months before Caffe Aficionado opened in approximately October 2013.
Following a December 2022 jury trial, Berhane was convicted of multiple charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, trafficking in unauthorized access devices, aggravated identity theft, unlawful possession of 15 or more access devices, and possession of access device-making equipment with intent to defraud.
On March 15, Berhane was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her role in the conspiracy. On March 15, Lemons was sentenced to time served and six months of home confinement for his role. On April 5, Younger was sentenced to 2 years of probation.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Andy Penn, Arlington County Chief of Police, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga.
This case was prosecuted with the assistance of the Montgomery County Police Department, the FBI Cyber Task Force, the U.S. Postal Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Capitol Police.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bibeane Metsch and Jonathan S. Keim prosecuted 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 Nos. 1:20-cr-25, 1:22-cr-9, and 1:21-cr-27.
Updated April 5, 2023