Two Men Plead Guilty in International Stolen Car and Identity Theft Internet Scam
SAN DIEGO—United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced that Edmund Seshie and Abdul Rezak Shaib pled guilty today to being part of a West African-based organized international car theft and identity theft ring.
In their guilty pleas, Shaib and Sheshie admitted purchasing stolen credit cards and corresponding counterfeit driver’s licenses in bulk from a Singapore-based “carder” website. So-called “carders” are people who buy, sell, and trade online the credit card data stolen from phishing sites or from large data breaches at retail stores. The stolen identities were then used to fraudulently purchase vehicles from U.S.-based car dealerships. In all, the defendants purchased scores of vehicles valued at almost a half a million dollars prior to the discovery of their scheme.
According to documents filed in court, co-defendant Henry Addo allegedly ran this international car theft ring from his home in Ghana. From various locations in Ghana, Addo placed international phone calls to car dealerships in the United States. During these call, he assumed the identity of the stolen credit card holders during the negotiation of each purchase, the indictment said. He then allegedly used a series of e-mail accounts to transmit the counterfeit driver’s licenses and stolen credit card information to United States-based car dealerships.
According to the indictment, Addo motivated his United States-based co-conspirators to participate in the conspiracy by invoking “Sakawa,” which is a Ghanaian practice that combines modern Internet-based fraud practices targeting foreigners with traditional African religious rituals.
Defendants paid for the cars using the stolen credit cards and (using the same stolen credit cards) paid automobile transportation companies to deliver the vehicles to various staging locations throughout the United States. Once multiple vehicles were accumulated at a particular staging location, a tractor trailer transported them in cargo containers to a New Jersey port for export to Africa, where the cars were then sold on the open market.
“This case is notable in terms of its level of sophistication, its audacious methods and the callous disregard for victims,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.” These guilty pleas are the first strike back on behalf of identity theft victims who now have to reclaim their good names—a frustrating task that can take years. We will continue to make these cases a priority.”
The FBI recommends that individuals take the following steps to minimize the chance of becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any document containing your Social Security Number.
- Don’t give a business your Social Security Number just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Protect your financial information.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches, and change passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
Shaib entered his guilty plea on September 16, 2014 and Sheshie entered his guilty plea today, both before United States Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Judge Adler ordered both defendants to appear on December 5, 2014 at 9 a.m. for sentencing.
Co-defendant Addo remains a fugitive and is believed to be residing in Africa.
|Edmund Seshie, aka Eddie Blay||Age: 42||Columbus, Ohio|
|Abdul Rezak Shaib, aka Zak||Age: 28||Bronx, New York|
- Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud—Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1349
- Maximum penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
*Indictments and complaints are not evidence that the defendant committed the crime charged. All defendants are presumed innocent until the United States meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.