Four plead guilty in credit card fraud scheme

credit-card-finance2Four individuals pleaded guilty before a federal court on Wednesday on fraud charges related to one of the largest credit card fraud schemes ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department.

Muhammad Shafiq, 39, of New York, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Vernina Adams, 31, of Pennsylvania, and Raghbir Singh, 57, of New York, pleaded guilty late last month to the same offense, and Mohammad Khan, 49, of New York, also pleaded guilty last month to charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

Documents filed in the case allege that Shafiq, Adams, Singh and Khan—all of whom were charged in February—participated in a conspiracy to fabricate more than 7,000 false identities to thousands of credit cards.

The conspirators allegedly doctored credit reports to increase the spending and borrowing power associated with the cards before spending the maximum amount, causing more than $200 million in losses to businesses and financial institutions.

During the guilty plea proceedings, Shafiq, Singh and Khan admitted they helped obtain credit cards in often fictional names, then directed the cards to be mailed to “drop addresses”—houses, apartments and post office boxes used as mailing addresses for the false identities—controlled by members of the scheme.

Adams admitted advertising on Craigslist for individuals willing to add someone to their credit cards and to selling other members of the conspiracy fraudulent black-market business “tradelines.”

Shafiq, Adams and Singh could face a maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years and a $1 million fine, or twice the loss or gain caused by the offense. Khan could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense.

Shafiq is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 14, Adams and Singh are scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 7 and Khan will face sentencing on Oct. 30.

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