Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Nichelle Nicole Rogers, age 28, of Washington, D.C., today to 54 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme to defraud Target Corporation. Judge Chasanow also sentenced Ebony Nicole Ruffin, age 28, of District Heights, Maryland, today to 27 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for the wire fraud conspiracy in connection with the scheme. Judge Chasanow entered orders that Rogers and Ruffin each forfeit and pay restitution of $485,000.
The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Kathy A. Michalko of the United States Secret Service - Washington Field Office.
According to their plea agreements, from September 2011 to November 2013, Rogers and Ruffin used counterfeit personal checks and false identifications to fraudulently obtain visa gift cards and other merchandise from Target stores in Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The co-conspirators presented over 1,400 counterfeit checks at Target stores, including stores in Frederick, Bowie, and Waldorf, Maryland, as payments for merchandise and gift cards, resulting in a total loss to Target of at least $485,000.
Rogers and Ruffin used the visa gift cards to buy items from Target for themselves, and to buy merchandise from other retailers, such as Nordstrom, later returning the merchandise for cash.
Rogers used or caused to be used the stolen identification of a real person on the counterfeit checks and presented this means of identification to Target cashiers to complete at least 350 transactions.
On November 9, 2013, Rogers was arrested by Prince William County (Virginia) Police officers for shoplifting at a Nordstrom Rack in Woodbridge, Virginia. Police seized 27 counterfeit checks in her possession. Rogers had previously attempted to use counterfeit checks and false identifications at other stores, and she had four receipts from a Target store which indicated that she had purchased 12 visa gift cards via counterfeit checks that day.
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 for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly O'Connell Hayes and Thomas P. Windom, who prosecuted the case.