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Posted September 13, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Final defendant pleads guilty in cigarette, credit card case

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

The last of three men accused of using 45 fraudulent credit cards to buy contraband cigarettes in Woodstock agreed to plead guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court, according to online court records.

Mamadou Bah joined Mamadou Diallo and Ibrahiima Doukoure in deciding to plead guilty to one count of participating in a conspiracy to use an unauthorized access device, possessing device-making equipment and possessing contraband cigarettes.

In return, federal prosecutors will agree to drop four other counts against each of the defendants, according to the court documents.

Statements of facts accompanying Diallo's and Doukoure's plea agreements describe a conspiracy under which all three men attempted to buy multiple cartons of cigarettes using credit cards "with fraudulently obtained account information and account numbers."

An off-duty police officer saw their activities at a Sheetz gas station in Woodstock in mid-December and reported them to law enforcement officers, who arrested them three days later, according to the statements of facts. Officers searched their vehicles and found 45 credit cards or gift cards "that contained fraudulently obtained account information," the court documents said.

Under questioning by investigators, Doukoure and Bah said Diallo had used a computer to re-encode the credit cards with the intention of using them to buy cigarettes, the court records said.

Investigators found two hotel rooms that Doukoure rented "in which a Hewlett-Packard computer and a credit card re-encoder were located," according to the statements of facts.

Bah, who was found with six credit cards on him, "admitted to being involved in using fraudulent credit cards to purchase cigarettes and was expecting to receive 15 percent to 20 percent of the profit from cigarette trafficking," the court documents state.

The statements of facts reported that searches of two cars and the hotel rooms turned up 271 additional credit card account numbers on several computers and 193 cartons of cigarettes.

The court records said the victims of the three defendants could have lost more than $70,000 "based upon the number of fraudulently obtained credit card numbers and the credit limits associated" with them.

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