A U.S. Secret Service investigation resulted in the arrest of five men for their involvement in a sophisticated credit card and identity theft scheme.
A nationwide operation that involved the Secret Service New York Field Office, Miami Field Office, Orlando Field Office and Atlantic City Resident Office led to the arrests of James Beckish, Richard Witcher, James Toner, Peter O’Brien and Joseph Anthony Demaria. Each were arrested for their role in operating a series of companies used as cover to place approximately $28 million of unauthorized charges on thousands of consumers’ credit cards.
The websites of the defendants’ companies purported to sell products such as dietary supplements, but in reality were primarily used to repeatedly bill consumers who never ordered their products. Even if consumers ordered products off of one of the websites, they almost never received them. All of the defendants were arrested on June 29 and presented before Magistrate Judges in the District of New Jersey, the Middle District of Florida and the Southern District of Florida.
“Emerging technologies and cyber capabilities enable criminal networks to evolve and significantly impact financial markets,” Dave Beach, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service New York Field Office, said. “This case is another example of the transnational investigative capabilities of the United States Secret Service. Our developed partnerships with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private sector stakeholders enables us to focus our resources to uncover, investigate and prevent these crimes more effectively.”
Beckish, Witcher, Toner, O’Brien and Demaria are each charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. In addition, they each are charged with one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.
“These defendants allegedly created and operated more than 100 companies that specialized in one service: ripping off consumers and credit card companies,” Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said. “By allegedly billing consumers for dietary supplements they didn’t order or receive, the defendants reaped millions of dollars, affecting thousands of consumers and leaving credit companies holding the bag. Thanks to the U.S. Secret Service, this scheme is over.”