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Press Release

Federal Court Sentences California Man to 80 Months for Counterfeit Credit Card Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa

DES MOINES, IA  - On November 13, 2015, Stephen Thomas, age 49, of Los Angeles, California, was sentenced by Chief District Judge John A. Jarvey to 80 months in prison for his role in leading a sophisticated counterfeit credit and debit card scheme in Iowa in February 2015, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt. Thomas was also ordered to pay restitution, to serve 3 years of supervised release following the period of imprisonment, and to pay a $300 special assessment to the Crime Victims Fund. Thomas previously pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy, access device fraud, and false statements to a federal official.

The investigation of this matter began as a result of a suspicious package that was delivered to a hotel in Des Moines. Law enforcement determined that the package contained counterfeit debit and credit cards that had been mailed from California to Thomas and others. Thomas and three co-defendants—Ronald Barre, Jr., Nakika Carter, and Richard Foust—left California together to execute the scheme across the Midwest. The group used counterfeit debit and credit cards to withdraw money from casinos in Minnesota and Iowa, and to purchase items at retailers. The counterfeit cards contained legitimate debit and credit card information encoded onto the strips of the back of the cards, but were embossed with the names of the defendants. 2

Thomas traveled with a California driver’s license in another person’s name, and provided a false name, date of birth, and social security number to law enforcement. At the time of his arrest, Thomas had an active arrest warrant for having escaped from federal custody.

Thomas’s co-defendants were previously sentenced for their roles in the scheme. Foust, age 58, received 24 months imprisonment; Carter, age 39, received 20 months’ imprisonment; and Barre, age 50, received 32 months’ imprisonment. All co-defendants are jointly and severally liable for restitution.

This investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Secret Service, the Des Moines Police Department, the Bloomington, Minnesota, Police Department, and the Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Updated November 16, 2015

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft