CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. sentenced Charles Vincent Brown, 36, of Pineville, N.C., today to 51 months in prison for credit card fraud, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Cogburn also ordered Brown to serve two years under court supervision, and to pay $237,141.41 as restitution.
Reginald A. DeMatteis, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
On November 4, 2019, Brown pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit access device fraud. A federal jury convicted Brown’s co-defendant, Robert Nathaniel Johnson III, on July 28, 2020, of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and access device fraud for his role in the fraudulent scheme.
According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, from September 29, 2018, to October 20, 2018, Brown, Johnson and others used a stolen credit card number to create counterfeit credit cards, which they then used to purchase more than $250,000 of merchandise. According to court records, Brown and Johnson stole the credit card number of an individual identified as Victim #1, whose credit card had a credit limit of $300,000. The co-conspirators created counterfeit credit cards bearing the defendants’ names and the names of other co-conspirators, and used them at multiple retail stores, including at Best Buy, Foot Action, Foot Locker, and Neiman Marcus.
According to court records, Secret Service agents executed a search warrant at Brown’s apartment, and seized more than 560 pairs of high-end sneakers and other footwear, electronics, clothing, gaming equipment, and other items Brown had purchased using the counterfeit credit cards. Agents also seized computers, an embosser, a laminator, and other items used to manufacture counterfeit credit cards and fake identity documents. Court records show that a forensic examination of Brown’s seized cell phones revealed text messages from Brown advising other individuals on how to purchase stolen credit card information, screenshots of dark web searches for stolen credit card information, and receipts for the purchase of dozens of stolen credit card numbers.
Brown is currently in federal custody. A sentencing date for Johnson has not been set.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the U.S. Secret Service for their investigation of this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Caryn Finley, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.