Credit card victims include rich, powerful and local stores
A U.S. senator, the embassy of Qatar and the Office of the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives were among the victims of a credit card fraud and identification theft scheme in which one person has pleaded guilty in federal court in Harrisonburg.
Lowe’s stores in Front Royal, Winchester and dozens of retailers throughout western Virginia were also among the victims. Authorities estimate that the losses from unauthorized use of stolen credit card numbers exceeded $650,000 in 2013 and 2014. Fraudulent purchases encompassed stores in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.
Most of the losses — more than $600,000 — were traced to a single credit number stolen from the founder of Quickrete, a large Atlanta-based materials company.
The defendant, Renodo Arnez Taylor of Maryland, faces a possible prison term of more than 11 years under terms of the guilty plea he entered.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Drew Smith said the case remains under investigation and other arrests may follow.
A statement of facts signed by Taylor states that around January 2012 he began buying five to 10 credit card numbers at a time for $100 apiece from David Yarborough.
Law enforcement officials found about 200 credit card numbers in Taylor’s apartment during execution of a search warrant on July 25.
The statement of facts lists some of those from whom the credit card numbers were stolen as “a sitting U.S. Senator; the Office of the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives; the Embassy of Qatar; the World Bank; the D.C. United Soccer Club; several CEOs and executives of Washington D.C.-based businesses and several Washington D.C.-based law firms and lobbying firms.”
Court documents did not identify individuals whose credit card numbers were stolen.
Smith called the case unusual for the sums of money involved and the victims.
“We don’t see too many cases with victims that prominent, and we don’t see too many cases where one victim has $600,000 in losses,” Smith said.
Court documents list four transactions recorded at the Lowe’s Front Royal and five more from Lowe’s stores in Winchester as involving the stolen credit card number from Quickrete’s co-founder. The amounts range from $5,964 in Front Royal on Dec. 22 to $4,027 at Lowe’s of Winchester on Nov. 15, 2013.
The statement of facts identifies three drivers — Leondra Sykes, Richard Fowler and Steve Pemberton — that Taylor would use to pick up merchandise from illicit purchases.
The statement of facts reports: “Taylor typically offered to sell the merchandise, including home appliances and generators for approximately one-third of its retail price. Residential homebuilders in Washington, D.C. and the Prince George’s County, Maryland areas were Taylor’s most frequent customers.”
Taylor’s attorney, Kevin McCants of Washington, D.C., said his client has accepted full responsibility for his actions and is “extremely remorseful.”
McCants added that Taylor purchased only credit card numbers and had “no idea” until much later that many came from the cards of wealthy and well-known individuals.
“He was quite startled and obviously concerned at that point,” McCants said of Taylor. “He had already made a decision to plead guilty at that point.”
McCants said it took a while for Taylor to grasp the magnitude of the offenses he was committing.
“It just went on for so long,” McCants said. “He started doing it and before he realized it, the volume of the credit card numbers had gotten out of hand.”
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org