Federal Indictment Charges Four Conspirators in Fraudulent Credit Card Scheme
Allegedly Used the Personal Information of Victims to Fraudulently Obtain Credit
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Hussain Abdullah, age 39 of Forestville, Maryland; Shazad Khan, age 56, of Maryland; Patricia Lynn Hiter, age 50, of Lawrenceville, Georgia: and James Edward Foster, age 60, of Woodbridge, Virginia, on charges related to a scheme to use victims’ stolen identity information to obtain credit. The conspirators allegedly used the fraudulent credit cards to obtain money and merchandise. The indictment was returned on August 17, 2016, and unsealed today.
Hiter and Foster are scheduled to have their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt today at 3:45 p.m. Abdullah had his initial appearance on Monday and was detained pending a detention hearing on Friday, October 7, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. Khan is currently serving a state sentence on unrelated charges and will have his initial appearance at a later date.
The indictments were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Brian J. Ebert of the United States Secret Service – Washington, D.C. Field Office; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to the indictment, Abdullah obtained and helped obtain the personal identifying information (PII) of others, without their knowledge or consent. The indictment alleges that from October 2014 through July 2016, Abdullah, Khan, Hiter, Foster and their co-conspirators, including Bland Shivers, used this information to create fake driver’s licenses in the names of the victims. Khan, Hiter, Foster, Shivers and others then allegedly used the driver’s licenses to apply for credit at retail stores, and used the credit cards they obtained to purchase merchandise and gift cards worth over $135,000. Prosecutors have stated that they believe there are at least 33 victims of the scheme, including nine victims specifically mentioned in the indictment - seven that were residents of Montgomery County, Maryland, and two that were residents of Washington, D.C.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy, and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
Bland Shivers, age 50, of New Bern, North Carolina, previously pleaded guilty to the wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft and is awaiting sentencing.
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 the U.S. Secret Service National Capitol Region Multi-Agency Task Force, the Montgomery County Police Department and Prince George’s County Police Department for their investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leah J. Bressack and Arun Rao, who are prosecuting the case.