Ordered to Pay Half Million to AmEx
Known by the moniker “Million Dollar,” a Los Angeles man was sentenced in late January to four years in federal prison for identity theft and credit card fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. also ordered him to pay $521,128 in restitution to American Express.
Million Dollar, now 33, was living as a transient in downtown L.A. when he was arrested in 2019. He pleaded guilty in September of 2020 to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
American Express Is the Ultimate Victim
From about November 2016 through July 2018, Million Dollar “masterminded a scheme to fraudulently obtain and use American Express credit cards for unauthorized purchases at high-end retail stores,” according to the USAO press release.
Without explaining how they did it, the USAO report said Million Dollar “enlisted [five] co-conspirators and obtained the credit card information and other personal identifying information (PII) of true American Express account holders.” They then bought jewelry, luxury bags, shoes, and other expensive items at Gucci, Barneys, and Goyard stores in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Costa Mesa.
USAO prosecutors noted in a sentencing memorandum, “While the ultimate victim here was American Express (because it reimbursed the individual victims), stealing and misusing victims' PII [and account information is a serious nationwide problem that can have a lasting impact on individual victims.”
Of the five convicted co-conspirators, four were previously sentenced, and one is still awaiting sentence. Investigations by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service provided the evidence the USAO used to convict all six defendants successfully.
Time to negotiate
Federal investigation and prosecution can take a long time. In Million Dollar's case, it was almost 18 months between the guilty plea and sentencing.
A lawyer's job does not end with a loss in court. An experienced criminal attorney can advocate for lesser time, fines, and post-incarceration terms more favorable than the USAO recommends.
For a free consultation, call the Sigal Law Group at (818) 325-0570.