Grand Rapids Man Sentenced For Credit Card Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — United States Attorney Andrew Byerly Birge announced today that Kahwahnas Nucumbhi Potts, age 39, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 9 years’ imprisonment for his aggravated identity theft and credit card fraud. The court also ordered Potts to pay restitution to the victims of his offense in the amount of $17,955.50. In sentencing Potts, U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff remarked that Potts’ brazen conduct "was among the most serious stolen mail conduct she has seen in eleven years, but that his act of breaking into the home of one of his victims and then impersonating that victim while talking to his credit card company was outrageous." The judge also noted that Potts previously appeared before her on federal charges of identity theft and that she sentenced Potts to two years’ imprisonment for his prior offense.
From at least March 2015, until April 2016, Potts stole mail belonging to West Michigan residents from their mailboxes. In December 2015, Potts stole a credit card after breaking into the home of a victim in Grand Rapids who was vacationing out of state. Potts used the means of identification of the victim and pretended to be the victim when calling the credit card company from the victim’s home phone to activate the card. Potts used that credit card without authorization to withdraw over $16,000.00 at automated teller machines (ATM) in December 2015 and January 2016. Potts disguised himself with a mask, a stolen license plate on his vehicle, and gloves, when making the ATM withdrawals. Potts again used the means of identification of the victim and pretended to be the victim on several occasions to persuade the credit card company to remove a block on the credit card when it suspected fraudulent activity.
Using the means of identification of many other individuals obtained from the stolen mail, Potts applied for and obtained credit cards in their names. Potts completed credit card applications over the internet and used the names, dates of birth and social security account numbers of such individuals to make it appear to the credit card companies that he truly was those individuals. In an effort to avoid detection, Potts accessed the wireless internet service of an area business to apply for the credit cards using his cellular phone and directed the credit card companies to mail the credit cards to a fictitious address that he created on Division Avenue in Grand Rapids.
"Today, Mr. Potts learned what it means when I say my office will not tolerate anyone stealing the identity of a resident of this district," commented U.S. Attorney Birge. "The significant sentence handed down by the court justifiably recognizes that identity theft is a serious crime with real consequences and that those consequences are even more significant for a repeat offender who commits this crime after breaking into the victim’s home."
The Grand Rapids Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in conjunction with the Grand Rapids Police Department Metropolitan Fraud and Identity Theft Team, conducted the investigation of the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald M. Stella prosecuted the case.