Authorities: Group used stolen account info in cigarette ring
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
HARRISONBURG -- Several men accused of using stolen credit cards as part of a cigarette sales scheme in the region now face federal charges.
A grand jury indicted five people in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg on Thursday, each for their involvement in the operation authorities have said relied on stolen credit card information then used to buy cigarettes in the area. Participants then sell the cigarettes in states which charge a higher tax and thus make a profit off the proceeds, according to law enforcement agents.
A five-count indictment charges Ibrahiima Doukoure, Mamadou Diallo and Mamadou Bah with acting as principals, aiders and abettors in possessing 15 or more unauthorized access devices on Dec. 19; using one or more of the devices on the same date to commit fraud and obtain items with an aggregate value of at least $1,000 in a year's time; and two counts of producing, using and trafficking in one or more of the counterfeit access devices.
The fifth count in the indictment charges all three defendants with conspiring between Dec. 17 and Dec. 19 to commit fraud, obtain items valued at $1,000 or more, possess 15 or more unauthorized access devices and to have contraband cigarettes.
The three defendants plotted to use the unauthorized access devices to buy cigarettes in the Western District of Virginia which they intended to sell in New York to avoid paying higher taxes, according to the indictment on the conspiracy charge. The defendants possessed a "re-encoder used to possess counterfeit access devices," the indictment states.
Woodstock police arrested Doukoure, 64, of Greenbelt, Md.; Diallo, 39, of Silver Spring, Md.; and Bah, 40, of New York, on Dec. 19 after an off-duty officer spotted one of the men trying to use several different credit cards to buy cigarettes before one worked, according to information from the town department. The three men were charged in Shenandoah County General District Court with felony counts of credit card theft, conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and obtaining money by false pretenses, according to investigator Scott Thompson.
Police found a key to a Winchester area hotel room on one of the men. When investigators searched the room they found cigarettes valued at approximately $21,000, according to a search warrant filed in the city's circuit court. Investigators seized electronic equipment and more than 100 credit cards from the room, the warrant states.
A separate indictment charges Idriss Mansary and Ansumara Jawara, no ages available, with possession of 15 or more counterfeit, unauthorized access devices, as principals, aiders and abettors, on Dec. 16; as well as using one or more unathorized devices to obtain items with an aggregate value of $1,000 or more within a year's time.
The three-count indictment also charges Mansary and Jawara with conspiring with other individuals to use one or more of the devices to commit fraud between June 2011 and Dec. 16.
"On or about December 16, 2011, Idriss Mansary and Ansumana Jawara used an unathorized access device to purchase cigarettes in the Western District of Virginia, which they intended to transport to the state of Maryland to avoid higher taxes in Maryland," the indictment states.
Jawara also is charged the Shenandoah County General District Court with receiving goods through fraud, credit card fraud and two counts of obtaining money by false pretenses acting as a principle in the second degree.