Credit Card Ring Boss Sentenced to Federal Prison
Over 250 Individual and Institutional Victims Had Their Identities Stolen and Sustained Actual Losses of Over $126,000 Baltimore, Maryland – The advent of a massive credit card fraud scheme based in Maryland began with a love affair, according to prosecutors. Instead of sending each other love notes, the pair gained access to an embossing machine and expressed their love for each other by creating counterfeit credit cards which they used to steal over $126,000. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Navee Diaz, a/k/a India, 40, of Owings Mills, Maryland on Aug. 25, 2015 to 76 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, arising from a scheme to use of stolen credit and debit card information to manufacture counterfeit credit cards used to buy merchandise and services. Judge Quarles also entered an order requiring Diaz to pay restitution of $126,318.99.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. According to her plea agreement, starting before January 1, 2011 and continuing through June 2014, Diaz conspired with co-defendants William Downey, Michael Crew and others to manufacture counterfeit debit and credit cards bearing stolen and unauthorized credit and debit card account numbers then use the counterfeit cards to purchase goods and services. Diaz initially became involved in the scheme when her friend, Downey, introduced her to Crew, with whom she became romantically involved. Crew had an embossing machine, and made credit cards using altered gift cards and the credit card and debit card numbers stolen from others. The stolen credit card account numbers were obtained from a variety of sources. Once a valid number was obtained, Diaz and other co-conspirators would use those numbers to obtain other valid numbers, which they would confirm by calling customer service for the issuing financial institution. These numbers were used to manufacture counterfeit access devices bearing the stolen credit and debit card account numbers. Crew sold the counterfeit credit cards and recruited others, including Diaz, to go out and make purchases on Crew’s instructions. Ultimately, Diaz began to provide cards to others and to take and fulfill orders for items to be purchased with the counterfeit cards. Diaz recruited others into the scheme, obtained cards as needed from Crew and co-defendant Jason Evans, and even manufactured cards herself. She exchanged dozens of text messages each day taking orders, arranging for cards and workers, and conducting other business of the conspiracy. Diaz went out shopping with the cards on a daily basis, with and without other workers in the scheme. During her participation in the conspiracy, Diaz and her co-conspirators obtained or attempted to obtain extensions of credit from financial institutions of between $200,000 and $400,000, using the financial account numbers of real people. More than 250 individuals and institutions were defrauded by the scheme. Michael Crew, 55, of Owings Mills, and Jason Evans, 32, of Millsboro, Delaware previously pleaded guilty to the same charges and were sentenced to nine years in prison and four years in prison, respectively, and were each ordered to pay restitution of $126,318.99. William Downey, 43, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland, his brother, Stanley Downey, 49, formerly of New York, also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on October 7, 2015, and October 27, 2015, respectively, both at 1:00 p.m. The Downey brothers remain detained pending sentencing. The Maryland Identity Theft Working Group has been working since 2006 to foster cooperation among local, state, federal, and institutional fraud investigators and to promote effective prosecution of identity theft schemes by both state and federal prosecutors. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Working Group, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to work with financial institutions and businesses to address identity fraud, identify those who compromise personal identity information, and protect citizens from identity theft. United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Secret Service; Howard County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Ocean City and Newport News Police Departments, HSI Baltimore and Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamera L. Fine, who prosecuted the case.