Indictment Unsealed Charging Six Defendants with Conspiracy to Fraudulently Acquire Personal Protective Equipment and Event Tickets
OKLAHOMA CITY – Earlier this week, an Indictment was unsealed charging six defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a scheme to fraudulently acquire personal protective equipment and event tickets, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.
On April 8, 2021, a federal grand jury returned a sealed Indictment against STEVEN MESROP, 29, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada; MIRNA MAHROUS HABIB, 24, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; ROBERT VINNIK, 26, of Ontario, Canada; KATAYUN OSKOI, 24 of Ontario, Canada; CAROLINA MESROP, 23, of Ontario, Canada, and DIJON CORNELIUS SHEPARD, 27, of Los Angeles, California. All defendants were charged with conspiracy. In addition, Steven Mesrop and Vinnik are charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to the Indictment, Mesrop and his associates operated a scheme to use stolen credit card and identity information to induce businesses to provide goods and services, such as event tickets and personal protective equipment, to resell for a profit. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is alleged that the conspirators began targeting U.S.-based businesses selling goods that were scarce due to the pandemic. The conspirators allegedly used stolen credit card information to purchase items such as nitrile gloves, masks, and gowns and to resell them to third parties. The Indictment alleges the conspirators operated the scheme from Canada, the Dominican Republic, Spain, Greece, and Dubai. The Indictment alleges the conspirators targeted sports teams and event venues throughout the United States and Canada, including Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Indictment further alleges that Mesrop and his associates used 21 different alias email accounts and information from 52 stolen credit cards to purchase over 1,800 tickets to Oklahoma State University athletic events between November 2019 and January 2020. In March 2020, the conspirators allegedly used stolen credit card information to purchase approximately $18,000 worth of toilet paper from a paper supply company in Oklahoma City.
Mesrop was arrested on March 18, 2021, in Georgia. On March 24, 2021, Mesrop was ordered to be detained pending trial. On April 16, 2021, Shepard was arrested in Los Angeles, California. The other defendants remain at large.
If convicted of conspiracy or any wire fraud count, each defendant faces a term of imprisonment on each count up to 20 years. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, each defendant faces an additional two years in prison per count, to be served consecutively to a sentence on any other count of conviction. Each count of conviction also includes a fine up to $250,000.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations New York’s El Dorado Task Force, the New York City Police Department, and the Irvine (California) Police Department, with assistance from Customs and Border Protection. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Farrior.
The public is reminded these charges are merely accusations and that each defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Attached is the Indictment the federal grand jury returned in this matter.
Reference is made to court filings for further information.