Skip to main content
Press Release

Maryland Fraudster Pleads Guilty to Receiving and Selling Fraudulently Obtained Cell Phones Worth More Than $500,000

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Used the Personally Identifying Information of Victims to Obtain the Phones

Baltimore, Maryland – Danisha Thomas, age 39, of Bladensburg, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to federal charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, related to a scheme to receive and sell cell phones that were fraudulently obtained using the identifying information of at least 24 victims.

The guilty plea was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland and Postal Inspector in Charge Damon E. Wood of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

According to her guilty plea and court documents, between July 2019 and March 2020, Thomas was part of a conspiracy to obtain new cell phones by opening new cell phone service accounts or upgrading existing accounts in the names of individual identity theft victims without the victims’ knowledge or permission, then selling the cell phones to others for a profit.

Specifically, co-defendants Chantelle Harris and Robert Patterson were employed by a third-party vendor contracted to handle wireless phone transactions, including sales and phone upgrades for Walmart.  Harris and Patterson, who worked inside Walmart stores, admitted that they abused their positions by conducting fraudulent transactions in furtherance of the scheme and for Thomas’ benefit.  With Thomas’ agreement, or upon her request, the co-defendants applied for new cell phone accounts and for upgraded cell phones on existing cell phone accounts in the names of identity theft victims without the victims’ knowledge or permission.  As detailed in her plea agreement, Thomas provided the victims’ personally identifiable information (“PII”), including date of birth and Social Security number, to Harris and Patterson for this purpose, aware that the victims were real persons who did not authorize these transactions.  With Thomas’ agreement or upon her request, the co-defendants used the victims’ PII to obtain credit approval and authorization for new accounts for cell phone service and/or to upgrade existing cell phone service accounts, then charged the purchase of new cell phones to the fraudulent service accounts opened in the victims’ names.  Harris communicated with the co-defendants by phone and text to coordinate the fraudulent purchase and exchange of the cell phones and was observed on video surveillance during and/or after each of the fraudulent transactions meeting with co-conspirators and/or receiving stolen cell phones directly from them. 

Thomas admits that the total value of the fraudulently obtained cell phones was approximately $537,000.

Thomas faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud and a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft.   U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for Thomas on September 28, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

Chantelle Harris, age 34, and Robert Patterson, age 22, both of Hyattsville, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the fraud scheme.  Harris was sentenced to time served and Patterson is scheduled to be sentenced on June 23, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for its work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron also thanked Assistant United States Attorney Colleen E. McGuinn, who is prosecuting the case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit and

# # #


Marcia Lubin
(410) 209-4854

Updated May 5, 2023

Financial Fraud