FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Eleven Defendants Indicted for Scam in Which They Allegedly Used Stolen Credit Card Numbers to Purchase Target Gift Cards
Defendants Arrested After Pattern of Purchases Was Detected by Store, Bank Security
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that 11 men have been indicted for using forged credit cards to purchase Target gift cards – in increments of $45 in an effort to evade detection – at the Gateway Mall in Spring Creek. The men were arrested after security for Target and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank discovered the pattern and set up a joint surveillance operation.
District Attorney Thompson said, “This case is disturbing in that the defendants were allegedly able to systematically – and swiftly – swipe their way into the bank accounts of innocent Chase customers by using forged credit cards. Our Cybercrimes Unit will continue to work closely with the New York City Police Department to remain vigilant in the face of changing technology.”
The District Attorney said that the defendants (see addendum), who range in age from 20 to 27 and all live in Brooklyn, have been variously charged in eight separate indictments with second-degree criminal possession of a forged document, fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny. Most of the defendants were arraigned earlier this week in Brooklyn Supreme Court. One remaining defendant will be arraigned tomorrow.
The District Attorney said that, according to the indictments, between late 2014 and early 2015, Chase Bank became aware of a large number of identical $45 fraudulent authorizations being made against its debit cards at the Gateway Target. Target security personnel were also aware of the fraudulent transactions, but Target’s protocol provided that employees should not inspect payment cards for purchases under $50. The $45 purchases were all being made for Target gift cards. None of the purchases was authorized and Chase assumed the loss. Chase and Target alerted the New York City Police Department and a joint operation was conducted on January 7, 2015.
The District Attorney said that, according to the one of the indictments, on January 7, 2015, at approximately 8 a.m., just after the store opened defendants Terquan Oliver and Courtney Cooper, entered the Gateway Target and went to the Electronics section. They immediately began making $45 purchases of Target gift card store credits, loading the gift cards through successive purchases. All of the debit card purchases were processed as credit card purchases and did not require a personal identification number.
It is alleged that in less than 15 minutes, Oliver used two stolen debit cards to make 39 incremental $45 purchases of Target gift card store credit. Of the transactions, 24 were made against a Chase account that did not belong to him and 15 were made against another Chase account that did not belong to him. Oliver switched accounts only after the first card was declined. The total value loaded onto the gift card was $1,755.
Meanwhile, during the same time period, it is alleged that Courtney Cooper made 18 incremental $45 purchases of Target gift card store credit against a Chase account that did not belong to him, 17 were made to load value onto one gift card, while one purchase was for a single $45 gift card. In total, $810 in charges was made against a Chase Bank debit card that did not belong to Courtney Cooper.
It is alleged that the defendants then purchased seven iPods using Oliver’s card. They were arrested upon leaving the store.
The District Attorney further said that the other seven indictments filed in this case reveal that the other nine defendants engaged in a similar scam, loading up Target gift cards using fraudulent debit cards, leading to a total of $6,750 in losses which were sustained by Chase Bank in less than an hour. In all, the defendants are alleged to have swiped 51 separate forged credit cards inside of an hour, switching to new cards as cards were declined.
The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Jackson Todd of the Special Frauds Squad and Detective Miguel Marte of the Identity Theft Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant Gregory Besson of the Financial Crimes Task Force, and the overall supervision of Deputy Inspector Kenneth Gray, Commanding Officer of the Financial Crimes Task Force.
The District Attorney thanked Target and J.P. Morgan Chase for their cooperation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Adam Zion, of the District Attorney’s Cybercrimes Unit, under the supervision of Felice Sontupe, Chief of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.
- Terquan Oliver, 25, 2364 Batchelder Street, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Released without bail.
- Courtney Cooper, 25, 2344 Bragg Street, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Released without bail.
- Justin Justiniani, 26, 600 East 26th Street, Flatbush, Brooklyn. Released without bail.
- Johansson Smith, 27, 175 Utica Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Bail set at $15,000 bond or $7,500 cash.
- John Charles, 27, 1639 East 55th Street, Mill Basin, Brooklyn. Released on $10,000 bond or $$5,000 cash.
- Andrew Andujar, 22, 1440 Freeport Loop, Starrett City, Brooklyn. Released without bail.
- Matthew McQueen, 25, 959 East 100th Street, Canarsie, Brooklyn. Released without bail.
- Neon Orridge, 21, 939 East 100th Street, Canarsie, Brooklyn. Released without bail.
- Fabrice Brimm, 20, 10501 Flatlands Avenue, Canarsie, Brooklyn. Released without bail.
- Bill Dorrelus, 22, 50 Vandalia Avenue, East New York, Brooklyn. Bail set at $5,000 bond or $2,500 cash.
- Rubens Jeannot, 22, 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, East New York, Brooklyn. To be arraigned on March 26, 2015.