Manager In Counterfeit Credit Card Ring Pleads Guilty
Over 250 Individual and Institutional Victims Sustained Losses of Over $126,000 or Had Their Identities Stolen
Baltimore, Maryland –Navee Diaz, a/k/a India, age 40, of Owings Mills, Maryland pleaded guilty today to bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, arising from a scheme to use of stolen credit and debit card information to manufacture counterfeit credit cards used to buy merchandise and services.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service - Baltimore Field Office; Chief Gary Gardner of the Howard County Police Department; Commissioner Anthony W. Batts of the Baltimore Police Department; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Chief Ross C. Buzzuro of the Ocean City Police Department; Acting Special Agent in Charge Ivan Arvelo of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Newport News Police Chief Richard W. Myers; and Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
According to her plea agreement, starting before January 1, 2011 and continuing through June 2014, Diaz conspired with co-defendants William Downey, Michael Crew and others to manufacture counterfeit debit and credit cards bearing stolen and unauthorized credit and debit card account numbers, then use the counterfeit cards to purchase goods and services. Diaz initially became involved in the scheme when her friend, Downey, introduced her to Crew, with whom she became romantically involved. Crew had an embossing machine, and made credit cards using altered gift cards and the credit card and debit card numbers stolen from others. The stolen credit card account numbers were obtained from a variety of sources. Once a valid number was obtained, Diaz and other co-conspirators would use an algorithm to derive other valid numbers, which they would confirm by calling customer service for the issuing financial institution. These numbers were used to manufacture counterfeit access devices bearing the stolen credit and debit card account numbers.
Crew sold the counterfeit credit cards and recruited others, including Diaz, to go out and make purchases on Crew’s instructions. Ultimately, Diaz began to provide cards to others and to take and fulfill orders for items purchased with the counterfeit cards. Diaz recruited others into the scheme, obtained cards as needed from Crew and co-defendant Jason Evans, and even manufactured cards herself. She exchanged dozens of text messages each day taking orders, arranging for cards and workers, and conducting other business of the conspiracy. Diaz went out shopping with the cards on a daily basis, with and without other workers in the scheme.
During her participation in the conspiracy, Diaz and her co-conspirators obtained or attempted to obtain extensions of credit from financial institutions of between $200,000 and $400,000, using the financial account numbers of real people. More than 250 individuals and institutions were defrauded by the scheme.
Diaz and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Diaz will be sentenced to 76 months in prison. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for July 14, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. At the time of her sentencing, Diaz will also be required to pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ actual losses, currently computed to be $126,318.99.
Michael Crew, age 55, of Owings Mills, previously pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $126,318.99. William Downey, age 43, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland, his brother, Stanley Downey, age 49, formerly of New York, and Jason Evans, age 32, of Millsboro, Delaware, also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on July 30, 2015, June 23, 2015, and May 20, 2015, respectively, all at 1:00 p.m. Diaz and the Downey brothers remain detained pending 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 efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 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 the inception of FFETF in November 2009, the Justice Department has filed more than 12,841 financial fraud cases against nearly 18,737 defendants including nearly 3,500 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Secret Service; Howard County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Ocean City and Newport News Police Departments, HSI Baltimore and Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamera L. Fine, who prosecuted the case.