Multi-Million-Dollar Gift-Card Fraud Leads to More Than Fifteen Years Prison
OKLAHOMA CITY – LEONARD RAY FOSTER, 48, of Oklahoma City, has been sentenced to 188 months in prison for fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme to defraud retailers of millions of dollars through gift cards, announced Robert J. Troester, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
According to charges filed on October 31, 2017, Foster owned and operated Acquisitions Unlimited, LLC, also known as A-to-Z Giftcards. This business bought unused or partially used retail gift cards, also known as store value cards, for a fraction of the cards’ face value. With Foster’s personal involvement, the business then sold the value on the cards to Giftcard Zen, an online retail gift card exchange based in Phoenix, Arizona.
According to the charges, from May 2015 to March 2017, individuals affiliated with Foster or his business shoplifted large quantities of high-dollar items from retail stores, including Walmart, Lowe’s, Target, and Home Depot. They then returned these stolen items, without a receipt, to the retailer for a store value card in the amount of the returned merchandise. Each day, Foster purchased multiple cards from these individuals for a small fraction of the cards’ face values. He knew the cards had been obtained through fraud. Indeed, Foster sometimes directed the shoplifters himself. Through A-to-Z Giftcards, he then sold the face value on the cards to Giftcard Zen, in violation of terms of service that prohibited selling store value cards obtained through fraud.
Foster was charged with wire fraud in connection with a $59,035.38 transfer on December 9, 2015, from Giftcard Zen’s out-of-state bank to an account of Acquisitions Unlimited at Bank of America in Oklahoma. He was also charged with money laundering, based on a December 10, 2015, withdrawal from Bank of America in the amount of $18,000.
Foster pleaded guilty to both wire fraud and money laundering on November 3, 2017. On November 22, 2017, the court revoked his bond based on a positive test for the use of methamphetamine. He has been in federal custody since that date.
Today U.S. District Judge David L. Russell sentenced Foster to 188 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. He must pay $7,025,681.29 in restitution to retailers. The court also ordered forfeiture of a 1969 Mustang and more than $20,000 in various bank accounts. Foster will also be subject to a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $3,142,500.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Oklahoma City Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigations, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julia E. Barry, Ashley L. Altshuler, and Wilson McGarry.
Reference is made to court records for further information.