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Press Release

Monroe County Tobacco Store Owner Charged With Fraud Conspiracy Involving Stolen And Counterfeit Credit Cards

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that on November 10, 2015 a federal grand jury in Scranton indicted Rehan A. Merchant, a/k/a Ray Merchant, a/k/a Aslam Ahmed, the former owner and operator of the Cigar and Tobacco Outlet in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the indictment charges Merchant with allegedly conspiring with unnamed co-conspirators to use counterfeit and stolen credit and debit cards to make fraudulent purchases at the Cigar and Tobacco Outlet.  Merchant and his co-conspirators also allegedly forged the names of cardholders on credit and debit card receipts.  The activities took places from September 2014 through September 2015.

Merchant was taken into custody last week in Florida after a Criminal Complaint was issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Scranton.

The continuing investigation is being conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and detectives from the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo.

Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law is 30 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.      

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Updated November 12, 2015