The last of eight members of an organized fraud ring based in Detroit has been sentenced, concluding a multi-year prosecution that originated with a twenty-three-count indictment alleging conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and aggravated identity theft , United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced today.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Josh P. Hauxhurst, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Detroit Field Office, Rodney Hopkins, US Postal Inspector in Charge, US Postal Inspection Service, Detroit Division, Reginal A. DeMatteis, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office, and Michael Patton, Chief of Police, West Bloomfield Police Department.
Today, Tayan Jackson, 35, of Los Angeles, CA, was sentenced to 2 years in federal prison by US District Judge Terrence G. Berg. The defendant was also ordered to repay $404,386.70 in refund. Collectively, the defendants in this case have been ordered to pay more than $2.3 million in restitution.
According to court records, the defendants obtained stolen credit card information on the dark web and from other sources, which they then used to produce counterfeit or “cloned” credit cards. The defendants then traveled to Walmart stores throughout the United States, often in small groups, where they used the cloned credit cards of the unwitting accountholders to purchase gift cards, typically in $500 increments. Members of the group often purchased tens of thousands of dollars in gift cards in a single day, hitting multiple Walmart stores in a given city before returning home to Michigan. Upon their return, the gift cards were then resold for cash and other items, to conceal and disguise the nature and source of the illicit proceeds. The scheme began in 2015, lasted for nearly three years, and resulted in millions in losses.
During the investigation, the government also discovered that the group was involved in yet another fraudulent scheme, which began in 2017 and targeted AT&T. The defendants used personal identifiable information that they obtained from the dark web and other sources to create cell phone accounts with AT&T, all without their victims’ knowledge or permission. Members of the group and others would then purchase Apple iPhones using the victims’ accounts. The iPhones were then resold for profit. Multiple defendants pleaded guilty to their involvement in the AT&T scheme and received sentences ranging from 4 to 8 years.
“This was an incredibly sophisticated group, who engaged in widespread fraud across multiple states over multiple years, stealing millions of dollars in the process,” stated United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison. “This prosecution is a prime example of our commitment to breaking up these organized crime rings, and holding their members accountable for the full scope of their criminal conduct.”
Ison also applauded all of the work that went into the prosecution, remarking, “This was a team effort, and I want to thank not only our federal law enforcement partners, but the numerous state and local law enforcement agencies around the country who assisted in identifying the members of this group. I also want to commend the incredible work done by Walmart’s Global Investigations Team, AT&T’s Asset Protection Team, and American Express Global Security—all of which were integral to the investigation and successful prosecution of this group.”
“Identity theft and credit card fraud are not victimless crimes. They have a profound negative impact on the individual whose identity is stolen,” said Josh Hauxhurst, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work in close partnership with the members of the Detroit Metro Identity Theft Task Force to identify and disrupt individuals and criminal organizations engaged in these schemes.”
“For several years, these individuals thought they had gotten away with their scheme to exploit Personally Identifiable Information (PII), obtained via the dark web, and use it to steal from retailers and rob their victims of their financial information. Today’s conclusion of this case serves as a reminder to those who engage in a criminal enterprise that law enforcement will spare no resource to find you and bring you to justice for your criminal activity,” said Inspector in Charge Rodney M. Hopkins, US Postal Inspection Service, Detroit Division.
“Today’s announcement illustrates the Secret Service’s commitment to combating identity theft,” said Reginald A. DeMatteis II, Special Agent in Charge, Secret Service Charlotte Field Office. “This case was a collaborative effort between the law enforcement community and the private sector to bring those who choose to victimize the American public to justice.”
The case was investigated by the FBI Detroit Metro Identity Theft Task Force, which includes representatives of the FBI, Auburn Hills Police Department, Birmingham Police Department, and Bloomfield Township Police Department along with assistance from the US Postal Inspection Service, West Bloomfield Township Police Department and Ellisville, MO Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys Ryan A. Particka and Mark Chasteen.