Serial Fraudster Convicted; Daniel Stephen Wray Directed Fraudulent Credit Card Scheme Targeting San Diego Retailers
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Pilchak and Matthew J. Sutton
(619) 546-9709 and (619) 546-8941
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 18, 2018
SAN DIEGO – Daniel Stephen Wray pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he was the leader of an elaborate scheme to steal identities and make and use fraudulent credit cards at multiple San Diego retailers.
Wray, 29, pleaded guilty to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on November 16, 2017, charging him with Conspiracy to Commit Access Device Fraud. As detailed in the plea agreement, indictment, and other publicly filed court documents, Wray recruited multiple co-conspirators to join his ring of credit card fraudsters in late 2016. Wray then provided these individuals with counterfeit access devices—credit cards bearing altered names, but encoded with real credit card numbers for the accounts of unwitting victims—and drove them to San Diego-area stores.
Investigators believe that many of the victims’ identities and credit card numbers were stolen after Wray and his co-conspirators installed a skimmer at a La Jolla gas station. A skimmer is a device capable of reading and recording account information, including customer names, account numbers, and personal identification numbers, from credit and debit cards. After creating the fraudulent credit cards with the stolen credit card numbers, Wray and his co-conspirators then used them to purchase tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise from multiple San Diego retailers, including Costco and Smart N Final.
In a proceeding today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew G. Schopler, Wray admitted his role as the leader of the fraudulent scheme, acknowledging that he obtained dozens of counterfeit and unauthorized access devices from multiple victims in San Diego County and then used these fraudulent credit cards to make tens of thousands of dollars in purchases, ranging from Apple iPads, luxury wristwatches, gold and silver, and large quantities of liquor and energy drinks from large San Diego retailers. Wray also admitted to being a prior federal felon in that he was previously convicted of illegally possessing 269 counterfeit access devices in 2014. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 7, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge John Houston.
“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. “We will vigorously prosecute those who prey on our citizens and steal their identities.”
“Today’s change of plea is a reminder that the U.S. Secret Service and its law enforcement partners will actively investigate and pursue prosecution of those who engage in financial fraud and use others’ personal information for their own personal gain,” said United States Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Brian S. Christensen.
This case was investigated by the San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force. The Task Force is led by the United States Secret Service, together with multiple state and local partners, including the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas W. Pilchak and Matthew J. Sutton.
DEFENDANT Case Number 17CR3856-JAH
Daniel Stephen Wray Age: 29 San Diego, California
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Commit Access Device Fraud, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1029; Term of custody including 20 years in prison, $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release and mandatory restitution.
San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force:
- United States Secret Service
- San Diego Police Department
- San Diego District Attorney’s Office