Members of Identity Theft Ring Plead Guilty to Fraud Targeting Virginia ABC Stores

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Two Norfolk men pleaded guilty on February 26 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft as part of a scheme to purchase alcohol for resale from Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) stores with stolen credit, debit, and pre-paid gift card numbers.

According to court documents, Dion Melton, 28, and Dominic Smith, 29, joined with two other men to defraud Virginia ABC stores by using credit, debit, and pre-paid gift cards re-encoded with the stolen financial information of identity theft victims. The conspirators obtained the stolen credit and debit card numbers by purchasing the numbers online, among other means. Investigators have identified 31 direct victims of identity theft from Smith’s role in the scheme and 18 direct victims of identity theft from Melton’s role in the scheme. There are at least 82 victims of the broader conspiracy.

Melton and Smith are scheduled to be sentenced on June 25. The conspiracy to commit wire fraud offense carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and the aggravated identity theft offense carries a mandatory consecutive term of two years in prison. Their codefendant, Tyrell Jackson, previously pleaded guilty to the same charges on December 9, 2020, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Steve R. Drew, Chief of Newport News Police, and Tom Kirby, Chief of Virginia ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted the pleas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Coleman is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:20-cr-45.

Source:  U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia

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