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Press Release

Essex County, N.J., Woman Arrested For Fraud Scheme That Targeted Elderly Individuals

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, N.J., woman was arrested this morning for engaging in a credit card fraud and identity theft scheme in which she targeted elderly women, fraudulently obtained their personal information, and used it to open new credit cards or access existing credit cards belonging to these individuals, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Terrell Brunson, 39, of Newark, N.J., is charged by Complaint with one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. She appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court and was detained.

According to the Complaint:

From April 2012 through February 2013, Brunson engaged in an identity theft and credit card fraud scheme that specifically targeted elderly women. She searched through publically available directories for telephone numbers of individuals who she believed were elderly women based upon their names. One name that Brunson commonly sought out was “Ruth.” Brunson called these individuals and pretended to be someone she was not, such as a representative from a credit card company. She then solicited personal information from these women (Social Security numbers and dates of birth) and then contacted credit card companies and used the information to add herself as an authorized user to the victims’ accounts or to create new accounts.

For example, on July 3, 2012, a woman identified as Victim One received
a telephone call from Brunson, purporting to be a representative of MasterCard. Brunson inquired about an alleged $400 transaction that she claimed Victim One had made at a Wal-Mart store. Victim One informed Brunson that the Wal-Mart transaction was fraudulent and provided her Social Security number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name. Brunson then used Victim One's personal information to open two retail store credit card accounts and to access one of Victim One's current credit card accounts. Brunson then used these accounts to make thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases online and in person at various stores and restaurants in New Jersey.

On Dec. 14, 2007, Brunson was arrested was charged with access device fraud in federal court. While on pretrial release in connection with these charges, Brunson continued the scheme and fraudulently obtained additional identities and access to the credit card accounts of others. Brunson pleaded guilty to a two-count Information and on April 2, 2009, U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson sentenced her to 39 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Brunson committed the present offenses while on supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Mottola, for the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas P. Grippo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Brunson Complaint

Updated August 20, 2015