A.G. AGENTS SAYS SCHEMERS USED ALTERED CREDIT CARDS
Two suspected identity thieves were ordered to stand trial for allegedly taking part in a two-day $80,000 shopping spree with tampered credit cards containing other people’s account information. The Utah Attorney General’s Office SECURE Strike Force charged four defendants with one first-degree count of pattern of unlawful activity and nine second-degree felony counts of use of a fraudulent transaction card.
Third District Judge Kate Toomey bound over Yazhen Li, 27, and Chenglong Kong, 24, on all charges after a preliminary hearing on February 21. A $50,000 arrest warrant has been issued for Zheng Yuan, 26, on the same charges.
Mingyu Jin, 22, pleaded guilty on September 24 to one second-degree felony count of identity fraud. He was sentenced to serve one-to-15 years in prison which was suspended on the condition he spend 30 days in jail, cooperate with the prosecution of his co-defendants and then leave the U.S. within 10 days.
An investigation by the SECURE Strike Force discovered the defendants allegedly took part in a sophisticated scheme involving the use of fraudulent American Express cards with magnetic strips containing account information from unsuspecting victims.
According to court documents, the four defendants rented a car in Las Vegas on May 4, 2012 and then spent the next two days driving to Target stores in St. George, Orem, American Fork, Sandy, Cottonwood Heights, two stores in West Jordan, South Jordan and Centerville. When they were arrested by Centerville Police on May 6, they had allegedly charged more than $80,000, including the purchase of seven I-Pads, one camera, clothes, gift cards and one night’s stay at a hotel.
The case was investigated by SECURE Strike Force Special Agent Darrin Williams and is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Gregory Ferbrache, the prosecutor for the Strike Force. All defendants should be considered innocent unless found guilty in a court of law. Jail booking photos of Li, Kong and Jin and an arrest photo of Yuan can be found below.
The A.G. SECURE Strike Force was started in 2009 to target major crimes committed by undocumented residents, including crimes involving identity theft, human trafficking, illegal guns, drugs and violent crimes.