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Press Release

Essex County, N.J., Woman Sentenced To 79 Months In Prison 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 sentenced today to 79 months in prison for a credit card fraud and identity theft scheme in which she targeted elderly women, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Terrell Brunson, 40, of Newark, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne. E. Thompson in Trenton federal court to an indictment charging her with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Brunson was sentenced to 51 months on the access device fraud count, followed by 24 consecutive months on the aggravated identity theft count and four consecutive months for violating her supervised release.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

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 publicly available directories for telephone numbers of individuals who she believed, based upon their names, were elderly women. One name that Brunson commonly sought out was “Ruth.” Brunson called these individuals and pretended to be someone else, 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. 

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 in a similar scheme and was and 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.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Brunson to three years of supervised release, entered a judgment of forfeiture in the amount of $10,894 and ordered Brunson to pay restitution of $7,069. 

U.S. Attorney Fishman credit 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 sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas P. Grippo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.


Defense counsel: Muhammad I. Bashir Esq., Elizabeth, N.J.

Updated March 18, 2015