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Guilty plea in 200+ victim bank fraud conspiracy

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Posted at 4:42 PM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 16:42:22-04

A Reisterstown woman pleaded guilty Friday to bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft arising from a scheme to use stolen credit information of more than 200 victims to defraud financial institutions, the United States Attorney’s Office said.

Shivani Patel, 30, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the bank fraud conspiracy and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for the aggravated identity theft. Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 3 p.m.

According to her plea agreement and court documents, Patel conspired with Tariq Hicks, 48, of Owings Mills, Eddie Carey, 32, of Baltimore and others from at least June to December 2013 to defraud financial institutions by accessing stolen credit and debit card accounts belonging to real people and using counterfeit cards, encoded with stolen account information, to make unauthorized purchases.

Sentencing for Hicks is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. June 10 and sentencing for Carey is scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 18.

Patel and Hicks used a computer and a device called a reader-writer, according to the SAO, to encode stolen credit and debit card information onto other existing cards.

The cards were sold or distributed to other conspirators who used them and provided the bulk of the proceeds to Hicks, the SAO said. Patel delivered cards to individuals and recruited workers, the SAO said.

The group used other methods, like using stolen credit reports to create new credit accounts and use “instant credit” to make purchases and staging account takeovers by identifying themselves as account holders, the SAO said.

For all of these schemes, according to the SAO, Hicks obtained fraudulent drivers’ licenses with the information of the victim but the photograph of a conspirator. The SAO said Patel and others instructed those using the cards and information to travel to other states to engage in the fraud.

A search of Patel’s residence in December 2013, where she lived with Hicks and Carey, showed a complete set up for the scheme on a dining table, including a computer with credit profiles and credit reports, a reader/writer device, credit cards being manufactured, money gram receipts for payments for the stolen credit card numbers and profiles, lists of personal identity information and dozens of credit cards bearing victims’ names and accounts and fraudulent identification, the SAO said.

The SAO said over 450 compromised accounts were compiled from the evidence seized in the residence and a storage locker, but most had not yet been used in the scheme. There were over 200 victims, including businesses and financial institutions which sustained an actual loss and victims who had their identities compromised because of the conspiracy, the SAO said.

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