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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Two Men Found Guilty on Charges of Conspiracy, Access Device Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft

RICHMOND, Va. – Ofori Awauh, 22, of Burke, Virginia; and Dane Ellis, 35, of Brooklyn, New York, were convicted yesterday by a federal jury on charges of Access Device Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Access Device Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Mark R. Herring, Virginia Attorney General; and Douglas F. Mease, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Richmond Field Office, made the announcement after the verdict was accepted by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.

Awuah faces maximum penalties of 10 years’ incarceration on two access device fraud counts, 15 years’ incarceration on a third access device fraud count, 7 years’ incarceration on the conspiracy count, and a mandatory consecutive 2 years on the aggravated identity theft count.  Ellis faces maximum penalties of 7 years’ incarceration on a conspiracy count and 15 years’ incarceration on an access device fraud count.  They are both scheduled for sentencing on August 20, 2015.  The maximum statutory sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Awuah, Ellis, and two other co-conspirators, Keyana Barnes and Michael Bonsu, were indicted on September 2, 2014.

According to evidence presented at trial, the group would make on-line purchases from various stores using stolen credit card numbers and the identities of real individuals who were not part of the scheme.  Because they often would have to present a credit card bearing the name of the person in whose name the items were purchased, the group would rub down the embossed numbers on “My Vanilla” commercial gift cards, and then use an embosser to place the stolen credit card numbers on those cards, along with the name of the person whose credit card number the group had stolen.  

As part of the operation, Awuah stole a Virginia identification card belonging to an acquaintance and used it in an attempt to pick up consumer electronics purchased with a fraudulently obtained credit card number at a Fairfax County WalMart on October 25, 2013.

On January 14, 2014, Awuah, Ellis, Barnes, and Bonsu were arrested after they picked up consumer electronics at Best Buy stores in Stafford County and Fredericksburg that had been purchased on-line with fraudulently obtained credit card numbers.  At the time of their arrest, they had with them an embosser, My Vanilla gift cards and the names of identity theft victims.

On May 4, 2015, Barnes entered pleas of guilty to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.  Her sentencing is scheduled for August 7, 2015.

On May 7, 2014, Bonsu entered a plea of guilty to an access device fraud charge.  His sentencing is scheduled for July 29, 2015.

This case was investigated by the Fredericksburg Police Department, Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, Fairfax County Police Department, and the United States Secret Service as part of the Metro-Richmond Identity Theft Task Force.  Other member agencies of the Task Force include: the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the U.S. Department of State, Henrico County Police Department, Richmond Police Department, and Chesterfield County Police Department.  Prosecutions for the Task Force are handled by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Reardon and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. Moore are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 3:14cr121.

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Updated May 14, 2015