By Joe Beck
The last of three defendants charged with trying to buy hundreds of cartons of cigarettes in Woodstock using fraudulent credit cards pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg.
Mamadou Bobo Bah's plea came after the government agreed to drop four other counts against him. Authorities say Bah participated in a conspiracy to use numerous credit cards encoded with account information and numbers that had been obtained by fraud.
Specifically, the three defendants were accused of a scheme in which one of them, Mamadou Diallo, used a computer to encode the cards with the false information that would be applied to cigarette purchases.
In a statement of facts filed earlier this week, Bah admitted that he was searched after his arrest, and authorities found him with six credit cards.
"He admitted to being involved in using the fraudulent cards to purchase cigarettes and was expecting to receive 15 percent to 20 percent of the profit from cigarette trafficking," according to the statement bearing the signatures of Bah, Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Lee and Russell Darren Bostic, Bah's attorney.
Law enforcement officials searched two cars and two hotel rooms linked to the defendants and found 271 more credit card account numbers, a laptop computer and 193 cartons of cigarettes, according to the court document.
The statement of facts lists the potential loss to the victims as more than $70,000 "based upon the number of fraudulently produced credit card numbers and the credit limit associated with the credit cards" carried by the three defendants.
Judge Michael F. Urbanski ordered Bah to forfeit three laptop computers, a magnetic stripe card reader and about 450 cartons of cigarettes or money obtained from their sale.
Urbanski scheduled Bah's sentencing for Jan. 23.
Bah, Diallo and Ibrahiima Doukoure were arrested in late December after an off-duty police officer spotted them trying to buy cigarettes with their credit cards at the Sheetz gas station in Woodstock. The officer contacted other law enforcement officials who found them with 45 credit or gift cards encoded with fraudulent account information, according to court documents.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or email@example.com