Conspirators Sentenced to Federal Prison for Identity Theft Scheme
Used the Personal Identifying Information of Over 200 Victims
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Shivani Patel, age 30, of Reisterstown, Maryland, to three years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and sentenced co-defendant Eddie Carey, age 32, of Baltimore, and two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for their roles in a bank fraud scheme which used the PII and credit information of over 200 victims to fraudulently obtain credit. Judge Bredar also entered an order requiring Patel and Carey each to pay restitution of $61,030.78.
The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service - Baltimore Field Office; and Chief James Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to their plea agreements and court documents, from at least June to December 18, 2013, Patel and her then boyfriend Carey conspired with Tariq Hicks and others to defraud financial institutions by accessing stolen credit card and debit card accounts belonging to real people and using counterfeit cards encoded with the stolen account information to make unauthorized purchases.
Hicks purchased the stolen account information over the internet. Patel and Hicks used a computer and an electronic device to encode the stolen credit and debit card information onto existing credit cards, gift cards, or other similar cards, which were sold or distributed to co-conspirators, such as Carey. The co-conspirators used the cards and provided the bulk of the proceeds to Hicks. Patel often delivered cards to the individuals who were conducting transactions, and recruited workers.
Hicks also purchased or obtained over the internet “credit profiles” containing the identity information of victims, then obtained full credit reports for these victims. Hicks gave this information to Patel, Cary and others, who went into stores where the victims had existing credit accounts, and used the victim’s PII to make purchases on the existing accounts (called “account takeover”). In addition, Hicks used the credit reports to identify stores at which a victim did not have an account, and sent Patel, Carey and others into those stores with the same PII to apply for new credit accounts in the victim’s identity. They then use that “instant credit” to make purchases before the victim learned of the account.
For all of these schemes, Hicks obtained fraudulent drivers’ licenses which bore the information of the victim, but the photograph of a co-conspirator. Patel had many such identifications which bore her photo but the identity information of victims. The co-conspirators could use the counterfeit license and the victims’ PII to establish their identity as the victim. Patel and others instructed those using the cards and information to travel to other states to engage in the fraud. Patel and Carey and other co-conspirators frequently traveled north to Pennsylvania and south as far as Georgia to engage in fraud, as well as the states that lie between Baltimore and Atlanta, including North and South Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia.
Carey assisted Hicks by conducting wire transfers of money in payment for the stolen credit card numbers and personal profiles. Carey always used a victim identity, provided by Hicks, to wire the money, usually between $2,000 and $3,000, to an individual in the Ukraine. As one of the few men participating in the conspiracy, Carey was often involved in the exploitation of any male victim’s identity and account information. He used the counterfeit cards both to purchase merchandise and to rent cars for use by members of the conspiracy.
On December 18, 2013, a search warrant was executed at Patel, Carey, and Hicks’ residence. A complete set up for the fraud scheme was on the dining table, including a computer with the credit profiles and credit reports, credit cards in various states of manufacture, money gram receipts for payments for the stolen credit card numbers and profiles, lists of personal identity information, dozens of credit cards bearing victims’ names and accounts, as well as dozens of fraudulent identification to match the credit cards, all bearing the information of the victims but the photographs of co-conspirators.
In a basement space shared by Patel and Carey were more lists of victim information and a receipt for a storage locker rented to “Aishwarya Gupta,” a fictitious identity that Patel created as an alter ego and used to obtain a $42,073.22 loan for the purchase of a 2010 BMW 528XI. There was also a small notebook in Patel’s handwriting with the PII of numerous individuals; notations as to money grams which had to be sent to individuals in Kiev and the amounts owed; and other information related to the scheme.
Judge Bredar previously sentenced Tariq Hicks, age 48, of Owings Mills, Maryland, to 65 months in prison, and sentenced co-defendant Ishia Cason, age 36, of Baltimore, to 42 months in prison. Judge Bredar also ordered Hicks to forfeit the credit and identification card counterfeiting equipment seized during the investigation and ordered Hicks and Cason to pay restitution of $61,030.78.
The Maryland Identity Theft Working Group has been working since 2006 to foster cooperation among local, state, federal, and institutional fraud investigators and to promote effective prosecution of identity theft schemes by both state and federal prosecutors. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Working Group, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to work with financial institutions and businesses to address identity fraud, identify those who compromise personal identity information, and protect citizens from identity theft.
Today’s announcement is part of the efforts undertaken in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI-Baltimore, the U.S. Secret Service, and Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamera L. Fine, who prosecuted the case.