Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Weds. Sept. 28, 2005: A Trinidad & Tobago-born youth faces two to four years in prison when he’s sentenced on October 19 for running an Internet identity theft scam again after being caught twice before.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown says Shiva Brent Sharma, 20, a technical school student of 104-18 108th Street in Richmond Hill, Queens, committed the fraud for the third time.
“The defendant has admitted his guilt yet again to engaging in the crime of identity theft despite a judge’s earlier warning that he would face severe penalties, including imprisonment, if he were to do so,” said DA Brown. “The defendant may have not learned the first two times, but struck out the third time and will learn the hard way — behind bars — that identify theft is considered a very serious crime in Queens County that is vigorously prosecuted and severely punished. Hopefully he has now finally learned his lesson.”
Sharma pled guilty last Friday to two counts of identity theft in the first degree and money laundering in the fourth degree before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin Brandt. He was also ordered to forfeit $2,300 and merchandise that was seized by detectives when a court-authorized search warrant was executed on his residence.
The charges were the result of an ongoing joint investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the New York City Police Department and the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau. District Attorney Brown said Sharma admitted that between January 1 and October 15, 2004 inside his residence and at various Queens hotels where he was staying, he fraudulently obtained the personal identity information and credit card numbers of various individuals and used their identities and credit card numbers to make thousands of dollars in purchases from auto parts, computer, jewelry and other companies. He thereafter received numerous shipments of merchandise at his home, at least one hotel in Queens where he was staying and at another Queens location.
Sharma additionally admitted to using the stolen credit card numbers to send money transfers to Western Union, which he would then obtain by using fake ids bearing the stolen identity information.
Many of the credit cards belonged to Citicorp. Sharma admitted that he obtained over $50,000 in money transfers and merchandise purchases and that he resold more than $10,000 of the merchandise which he obtained over the Internet and kept the money from the sales. He also admitted that he had previously been convicted of identity theft in the first degree in 2003, less than five years to the date these new crimes were committed.
According to the district attorney, postal inspectors and detectives executed a court-authorized search warrant at the defendant’s Richmond Hill residence on Saturday, October 16, 2004 and recovered computers, computer equipment, credit card receipts and various other business records including financial profiles and credit reports of over 35 individuals from various states across the country along with fake ids containing their names and the defendant’s photograph.
Meanwhile, a December 2002 indictment charged that Sharma fraudulently obtained the personal identity information of over 100 AOL subscribers and used the information to purchase over $10,000 worth of electronic equipment and racing car parts.
He also admitted that while under indictment he additionally took over the debit card/checking and Amazon.com accounts of a Durham, North Carolina, couple and others and used their identities and their bank and on-line accounts to place dozens of orders for electronic equipment, which he received at his home and other locations.
The defendant additionally admitted that he created at least two websites (a technique known as “spoofing”)in which he used the name “Amazon” in the web addresses and then used the websites to auction the stolen property he had fraudulently obtained via his orders to online retailer Amazon.com.
And Sharma also pled guilty on September 17, 2003 to two counts of identity theft in the first degree and unlawful possession of personal identification information in the second degree, again before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin Brandt who had sentenced him on November 12, 2003 to time served, five years probation, 350 hours of community service not related to computer or office work and also make full restitution of $5,000. – Hardbeatnews.com