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Press Release

Members Of Rochester Credit Card Fraud And Identity Theft Ring Sentenced To Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051
ROCHESTER, N.Y.-- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Shawn Smith, 28, Odell Edwards, 31, Sebastian Ferrell, 32, and Courtney Campbell-Cooper, 27, all of Rochester, NY, who were convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, were sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci. The sentences included:
• Smith-26 months in prison;
• Edwards-77 months in prison;
• Ferrell-77 months in prison; and
• Campbell-Cooper-51 months in prison.
Ferrell also received an additional 14 months in prison for violation of supervised release. The defendants were also ordered to pay a total of $435,274 in restitution to Discover Bank as part of their sentences.
“This case demonstrates why it is so important to regularly and consistently keep track of your credit cards and financial statements," said U.S. Attorney Hochul.    
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who handled the case, stated that in April 2014, the United States Secret Service began investigating reports of access device fraud and identity theft in the Rochester area. They were assisted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Rochester Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and the Brighton Police Department. The investigation involved fraudulently obtained credit cards issued by Discover Financial Services being used at various locations in the Western District of New York and elsewhere.
The scheme involved legitimate credit card accounts which were compromised. The financial institution would receive a telephone call requesting that a particular name be added to the account as an authorized user and that a new credit card be issued. Other times the request was simply for the issuance of replacement cards in the actual account holder’s name. The new cards were sent to various addresses in Rochester and were then intercepted by subjects of the fraud ring, including the defendants. The investigation revealed that the true holders of the credit card accounts had not authorized the issuance of new cards in these names or the issuance of replacement cards, and had not authorized the subsequent use of these credit cards. The investigation linked Smith, Edwards, Ferrell, and Campbell-Cooper to multiple fraudulent credit card accounts, and showed that they were using other people’s credit accounts to make unauthorized purchases around the country.
As the defendants received the fraudulent cards, they immediately made fraudulent purchases and cash withdrawals in area stores and banks. On one visit to a local Best Buy alone, the defendants purchased over $6,000 worth of electronics using fraudulent credit cards. The cards were also used extensively at high end retailers and at various designer stores at the Eastview mall. The defendants also visited area banks and ATM machines to make fraudulent cash withdrawals using the stolen cards and false identity documents.
In addition to fraudulent purchases made in the Rochester area, some of the defendants traveled outside of New York with the stolen cards. Surveillance video recovered during the investigation showed the defendants making fraudulent purchases at hotels, stores, and casinos in Illinois, Florida, and Ohio. As a result of the scheme, the defendants stole more than $435,000.
U.S. Attorney Hochul further stated: “The best defense against fraud is knowing how to detect and thwart the wide variety of criminals who seek to steal your identity and money. Visit to learn how to identify fraud and how to protect against such schemes” 
The sentencings are the culmination of a multi-state investigation, coordinated by Special Agents with the Rochester Resident Office of the United States Secret Service, under the direction of C. Todd Laster, Special Agent in Charge; Inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Shelly Binkowski, Inspector In Charge of the Boston Division; Officers of the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli; Deputies with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn; and Officers with the Brighton Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Henderson.

Updated April 15, 2016