New York Man Pleads Guilty To Part In Scheme To Use Counterfeit Access Devices To Steal From Casinos
LAFAYETTE, La. –United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Benfen Zhang, 43, of Flushing, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik to conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices to receive cash advances from Louisiana casinos.
According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Zhang and three Chinese nationals obtained cash advances using unauthorized access devices from November 2012 to September 2013. Zhang drove his co-conspirators to casinos and provided the counterfeit access devices. The co-conspirators would then get cash advances from the casinos, gamble briefly, and then move to the next casino. The total amount of loss to the casinos is believed to be $103,624.81. Illegal cash advances were obtained from the Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, L=Auberge Casino in Lake Charles, El Dorado Casino in Shreveport, and Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City.
Zhang faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and restitution for one count of conspiracy to possess more than 15 counterfeit or unauthorized access devices.
The Federal Reserve defines an access device as a card, code or other means of access to a consumer’s account or a combination of these used by the consumer to initiate Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT). Access devices include debit cards, personal identification numbers (PINs), telephone transfer and telephone bill payment codes, and other means to initiate EFT or to form a consumer account.
The U.S. Secret Service and the Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard C. Parker is prosecuting the case.