Five People Indicted for Compromising Target’s Gift Card System and Defrauding Victims Out of Nearly $800,000
Deciphered Gift Card Identifying Numbers to Steal Balances and Commit Fraud
Five members of a fraud ring charged with compromising the internal gift card system of major national retailer, Target Corporation, and defrauding the retailer and its legitimate customers of almost $800,000 have been indicted on wire fraud charges by a federal grand jury in Seattle, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. JEFFERY DOUGLAS MANN, 29, of Marysville, Washington, and JOSHUA NEWMAN, 33, of Kirkland, Washington will appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:00 today.
A third defendant, COREY MOSEY, 30, of Lynnwood, Washington is in Washington state custody on unrelated charges. The two remaining defendants KENNADY WESTON, 22, and DERRICK QUINTANA, 26, both of Everett, Washington, are being sought by law enforcement.
According to the indictment unsealed today, between May 2017 and December 2017, the ring allegedly stole gift card balances worth more than $785,000, and often sold illegally purchased goods or store gift cards for bitcoin on an internet marketplace. The co-conspirators allegedly used a special algorithm to reverse-engineer and identify unique bar code numbers of thousands of authentic gift cards sold by Target to legitimate customers. Members of the scheme then used the retailer’s automated customer service telephone system to verify balances linked to the various stolen gift card numbers. They then loaded active gift card numbers onto a mobile or electronic wallet app on their phones, which the co-conspirators used to purchase merchandise and legitimate gift cards at various Target store locations across at least five states: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Colorado. For example, on one occasion in November 2017, JEFFERY DOUGLAS MANN, KENNADY WESTON, DERRICK QUINTANA, and others used roughly 180 compromised gift card numbers to make $6,900 in purchases at the Southcenter Mall Target store in Tukwila, Washington.
When the actual cardholders later tried to use their gift cards, they discovered that they had zero balance. In December 2017, Target modified its gift card system in response to the fraud, putting an end to the scheme.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, with assistance from the Kirkland, Lynnwood, and West Linn (OR) Police Departments, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Masada and Special Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Diggs. Mr. Diggs is an attorney with the Social Security Administration specially designated to prosecute fraud cases in federal court.