Former Customs Employee Pleads Guilty To Auctioning Online A Customs Declaration Form Signed By A Celebrity
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A former Charlotte resident pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer for her role in a scheme involving stolen personally identifiable information (PII) and fraudulently-obtained consumer credit reports, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Keith Fixel, Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
Nakia Monica Brown, 34, formerly of Charlotte, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of aggravated identity theft. Brown’s co-conspirators, Tiffany Sherise Young, 30, of Charlotte and Trina Monique Young, 39, of Bronx, N.Y. have also agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy for their involvement in the scheme. Their plea hearings are scheduled for May 9th and May 10th, respectively, before Judge Cayer.
According to filed court documents and court proceedings, from 2009 through 2010, Brown and her co-conspirators used an unlawfully-acquired list of over 1,400 identity theft victims that contained stolen PII, including the victims’ names, social security numbers, and dates of birth. Court records show that the co-conspirators used the victim’s PII to obtain free consumer credit reports from credit reporting agencies and, in turn, used the consumer credit report information to manufacture fake identification documents and to purchase over $400,000 in merchandise from eleven (11) national retail chains.
According to the criminal bill indictment and plea documents, Brown defeated the credit reporting agencies’ online security systems and gained access to the victims’ consumer credit reports, including the victims’ credit scores, their existing credit card accounts, their available lines of credit and other biographical information, such as their residential addresses. In this manner, Brown fraudulently acquired a combined total of 370 credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies, according to plea documents.
Court documents indicate that Brown then used the identity theft victims’ information to manufacture counterfeit New York driver’s licenses. The counterfeit driver’s licenses contained the names, dates of birth and addresses of the identity theft victims, along with photographs and physical descriptions of Brown and her co-conspirators. Using the counterfeit New York driver’s licenses, Brown and her co-conspirators fraudulently purchased merchandise at national retail merchant stores based on the identity theft victims’ available credit or based on same-day, instant credit offered by the retail stores to new customers. Court records indicate that the fraudulently-purchased merchandise was then sold to pawnbrokers, “fences” and other end users. According to the plea agreement, the financial loss exceeds $400,000.
Brown and her co-conspirators have been released on bond since April 2012. They each face a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 for the wire fraud conspiracy charge. Brown faces a consecutive mandatory prison term of two years and a $250,000 fine for the aggravated identity theft charge. Sentencing dates for the defendants have not been set yet.
The investigation was handled by the USPIS, with assistance from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom O’Malley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.
If you believe that your personal information was compromised, there are numerous resources available online that can help you understand what steps to take to protect yourself against identify theft. This includes: