LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man was sentenced today to 48 months in federal prison for leading a conspiracy that fraudulently obtained American Express credit cards and then used the cards to purchase more than a half million dollars in goods at luxury stores.
Trace Jevon Jones, 33, aka “Million Dollar,” a transient living in downtown Los Angeles when he was arrested in 2019, was sentenced by United States District Judge André Birotte Jr., who also ordered him to pay $521,128 in restitution to American Express .
Jones pleaded guilty in September 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
From at least November 2016 to July 2018, Jones masterminded a scheme to fraudulently obtain and use American Express credit cards for unauthorized purchases at high-end retail stores. To carry out his scheme, Jones enlisted co-conspirators, and obtained the credit card information and other personal identifying information of true American Express account holders.
Jones and his co-conspirators then used this information to convince American Express to send out replacement credit cards in the victims’ names. Jones and his co-conspirators then used the fraudulently obtained credit cards to make purchases at luxury stores such as Barneys, Goyard and Gucci in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa. There, Jones and other conspirators used victims’ stolen information to obtain luxury bags, shoes, jewelry, and other goods.
“This was not a one-time event or an isolated lapse of judgment,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “[Jones] in this scheme at least as early participated as November 2016, and then coordinated numerous purchases with five coconspirators between May and July 2018, many of whom he recruited. Further, while the ultimate victim here was American Express (because it reimbursed the individual victims), stealing and misusing victims’ PII and account information is a serious nationwide problem that can have lasting impact on individual victims.”
Four other defendants have been sentenced in this case. Terry Ellis Jr., 40, of Chino, and Davion Raymone Ellis, 32, of Eastvale, are serving federal prison sentences of two years and three years, respectively, after pleading guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges in this case. Cherelle Daire Beal, 31, of Eastvale, and Miranda Clare Hensley, 31, of Las Vegas, were given credit for time served and were ordered to serve three years of supervised release. An additional defendant, Jonathan Randall Ross, 33, of Canoga Park, is scheduled to be sentenced in the coming weeks.
The United States Secret Service and United States Postal Inspection Service investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Maria Elena Stiteler and Matthew J. Rosenbaum of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering and Racketeering Section, Assistant United States Attorney Jeremiah Levine of the Violent and Organized Crime Section, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Ryan G. Adams of the Santa Ana Branch Office prosecuted this case.