Three New Yorkers Sentenced For Credit Card Scam
The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that three residents of Brooklyn, New York were recently sentenced in United States District Court in Brattleboro following their guilty pleas to charges involving credit card fraud. Today, U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha sentenced Wen Ping Chen, 39, who was the organizer of this conspiracy, to 12 months plus one day of imprisonment. Two lower-level participants in the conspiracy, Kewang Lin, 38, and Shao Qing Chen, 28, were sentenced last week to terms of probation. Wen Ping Chen was ordered to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. The three defendants were ordered to pay restitution in the total amount of $25,600. The court ordered that Wen Ping Chen surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on April 4 to begin serving his sentence.
On October 15, 2015, a federal grand jury in Burlington returned a three-count indictment charging Wen Ping Chen with conspiring to commit access device fraud, possessing 15 or more counterfeit access devices, and using counterfeit access devices. In 2014, the grand jury had charged Kewang Lin and Shao Chen with related crimes. The prosecution stemmed from an incident in August 2014 which resulted in the arrests in South Burlington of co-conspirators Shao Chen and Lin.
According to the indictment and court records, between about 2013 and August 22, 2014, Wen Ping Chen recruited Shao Chen, Kewang Lin and other young men and women to commit credit card fraud across the Eastern United States. As part of the conspiracy, Wen Ping Chen recruited young women to obtain waitressing jobs at Chinese restaurants outside New York City. Chen gave his recruits credit card skimming devices which enabled them to steal the credit card numbers of restaurant customers. Chen used the stolen credit card numbers to manufacture counterfeit credit cards. He then recruited young men to travel from New York to other states and use counterfeit credit cards to make purchases, primarily of gift cards. The merchandise acquired through the fraudulent purchases would then be resold on a black market. In August 2014, Wen Ping Chen, Shao Chen and Lin drove from New York to Vermont. Shao Chen and Lin spent two days buying gift cards with counterfeit credit cards provided to them by Wen Ping Chen. On August 22, 2014, Shao Chen and Lin were arrested and later pled guilty in federal court to credit card related crimes. Wen Ping Chen was also arrested in 2014 but was initially released pending further investigation. More than 80 counterfeit credit cards were recovered by South Burlington officers, as well as thousands of dollars of gift cards.
Before being arrested in Vermont, Shao Chen, Lin and other conspirators made shopping trips to Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas and Louisiana to buy gift cards with counterfeit credit cards supplied by Wen Ping Chen.
This case was investigated by the South Burlington Police Department, the United States Secret Service, and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Wen Ping Chen is represented by Paul Brenner; Shao Chen by Stacey Van Malden; and Kewang Lin by Edgar Fankbonner. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.