The last of eight members of a Detroit-based organized fraud ring has been convicted, concluding a years-long prosecution that began with a 23-count indictment alleging conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and aggravated identity theft, U.S. 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, California, was sentenced to 2 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Terrence G. Berg. The defendant was also ordered to repay $404,386.70 in restitution. Collectively, the defendants in this case were ordered to pay more than $2.3 million in restitution.
According to court records, the defendants obtained stolen credit card information from the dark web and other sources, which they then used to produce counterfeit or “cloned” credit cards. The defendants then visited Walmart stores across the United States, often in small groups, where they used the unwitting account holders’ cloned credit cards to buy gift cards, usually in $500 increments. Band members often purchased tens of thousands of dollars in gift cards in a single day, at 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 program began in 2015, lasted almost three years and resulted in millions in losses.
During the investigation, the government also discovered that the group was involved in another fraudulent scheme, which began in 2017 and targeted AT&T. The defendants used personally identifiable information they obtained from the dark web and other sources to create cell phone accounts with AT&T, all without the knowledge or permission of their victims. The band members and others would then buy Apple iPhones using the victims’ accounts. The iPhones were later resold for a profit. Several 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, which engaged in widespread fraud in multiple states over several years, stealing millions of dollars in the process,” said U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison. “This lawsuit is an excellent example of our commitment to breaking up these organized criminal networks and holding their members accountable for the full extent of their criminal conduct.”
Ison also applauded all the work that went into the prosecution, remarking, “It was a team effort, and I want to thank not only our federal law enforcement partners, but the many state and local law enforcement agencies across the country who have helped identify members of this group. I also want to acknowledge the incredible work done by Walmart’s Global Investigations Team, AT&T’s Asset Protection Team and American Express Global Security, all of whom were integral to the successful investigation and prosecution. against this group.
“Identity theft and credit card fraud are not victimless crimes. They have a profound negative impact on the person whose identity is being stolen,” said Josh Hauxhurst, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work closely with members of the Metro Detroit Identity Theft Task Force to identify and disrupt the individuals and criminal organizations involved in these schemes.”
“For several years, these individuals thought they had gotten away with their scheme to mine personally identifiable information (PII), obtained via the dark web, and use it to rob retailers and rob their victims of their financial information. Today’s conclusion to this case reminds those who engage in a criminal enterprise that law enforcement will spare no resources 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 of the Charlotte Secret Service Field Office. “This case was a collaborative effort between the law enforcement community and the private sector to bring to justice those who choose to victimize the American public.”
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Metro Detroit Identity Theft Task Force, which includes representatives from the FBI, Auburn Hills Police Department, Police Department of Birmingham and the Bloomfield Township Police Department, as well as assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service, West Bloomfield Township Police Department. and Ellisville, MO Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan A. Particka and Mark Chasteen.