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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against 6 Men For Credit Card Fraud

Defendants in multistate scheme stole foreign bank account information

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced the charges today against six men – ERIC ROBINSON, ELDRIDGE MITCHELL, JHAYMES BETHEL BROWN, JR., CRAIG SMITH, AKIL CHRISTOPHER, and KORDELL NESBITT – on charges stemming from their conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and their commission of credit card fraud.  ROBINSON, MITCHELL, BROWN, JR., and NESBITT were arrested today in the New York City metro area.  SMITH and CHRISTOPHER remain at large. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “As alleged, these six men conspired to use fraudulent credit cards, encoded with the stolen bank account information of victims, to purchase scores of American Express, Visa and MasterCards.  Together with our partners at the USPIS, we have put this alleged criminal ring out of business.”

USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said:  “When the defendants used their ill-gotten gains for the finer things in life, they miscalculated the true cost of their crimes: being arrested. U.S. based merchants are quickly transitioning to EMV Chip-Pin point of sale terminals, eventually making these low level credit card fraud schemes a thing of the past.”

According to the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From May 2015 until August 2015, a number of individuals, including all six defendants, engaged in a conspiracy and scheme to defraud others.  They went to various post offices in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, where they purchased American Express, Visa, and MasterCard gift cards (“Gift Cards”).  Typically, the defendants bought or attempted to buy several $500 Gift Cards at one time.  The defendants purchased these Gift Cards using fraudulent credit cards.  The credit cards appeared legitimate, and they were often made out in the names of the defendants.  However, the credit cards were intentionally encoded with stolen bank account information.  As a result, the individuals who purchased Gift Cards were not the individuals charged for the purchase; instead the victims whose bank account information had been stolen and encoded onto the fraudulent credit cards were paying for the Gift Cards, unbeknownst to them.  Frequently, the stolen bank account information was for bank accounts maintained in foreign countries.  In just four months, the defendants defrauded others, or attempted to defraud others, out of more than $150,000.

According to the Complaint, the defendants’ misconduct occurred at post offices throughout New York, as well as in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

*          *          *

Each of the defendants is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

If you believe you were a victim of this crime, including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to provide information to law enforcement and/or receive notice of future developments in the case or additional information, please contact the Victim/Witness Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at (866) 874-8900.  For additional information, go to: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys/victimwitness.html

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the USPIS.  He added that the investigation is ongoing.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew J. Laroche and Michael D. Neff are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
16-096
Updated April 26, 2016