Justia White Collar Crime Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Internet Law
United States v. Tragas
Tragas bought information that is encoded in the magnetic strip on the back of credit and debit cards from overseas suppliers and re-sold the information to the Hunter brothers, who created “clone” gift and credit cards with which they purchased goods and bona fide gift cards. Tragas and the Hunters communicated online. Police discovered records of their conversations on the Hunters’ computer. Transcripts of the conversations were read at trial. Although the parties did not use names, a picture of Tragas appeared on the account and Tragas made purchases with card information exchanged during the conversations. Tragas purchased a house in Florida after a conversation about buying a house in Florida. As a result of the scheme, credit and debit card users and their financial institutions lost $2.18 million. Tragas was convicted of conspiracy to commit access device fraud offenses, 18 U.S.C. 1029(b); aiding and abetting unlawful activity under the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. 1952(a); bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1344; and wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343, and sentenced to 300 months’ imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the convictions, rejecting claims that the prosecutor improperly read evidence aloud, that the court should have given the jury a specific unanimity instruction, that the Travel Act convictions were not supported by sufficient evidence, and that her Vienna Convention rights were violated. The court remanded the sentence; the court used an incorrect version of the Guidelines. View "United States v. Tragas" on Justia Law
United States v. Kernell
Defendant hacked the email account of then-Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. After forensic examinations revealed that he took action to remove information from his computer relating to the incident, he was indicted on several counts, including identity theft, but only convicted of obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. 1519. Section 1519, part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, prohibits knowing destruction or alteration of any record with intent to impede, obstruct, or influence investigation of any matter within the jurisdiction of any federal department or agency or in relation to or in contemplation of any such matter or case. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the law was unconstitutionally vague and that there was not sufficient evidence to support his conviction. Defendant's posts indicated "contemplation" of a federal investigation.View "United States v. Kernell" on Justia Law
United States v. Aslan
Defendants, based in Romania and Chicago, operated an internet scam using E-bay. The Seventh Circuit addressed appeals by defendants convicted of wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1343). The court upheld a sentence of 63 months imprisonment, at the high end of the guidelines, that did not include credit for time served on related state charges or in custody of immigration officials. The court properly allowed the defendant's attorney to withdraw and declined to appoint new counsel. Another defendant's appeal was barred by his plea agreement. The court properly considered the foreseeability of losses caused by co-schemers in sentencing a third defendant, who also pled guilty to receipt of stolen funds in interstate commerce (18 U.S.C. 2315). With respect to the only defendant to go to trial, the court vacated a conviction for aggravated identity theft (18 U.S.C. 1028A), finding the evidence insufficient to show that he knew that the passport he used belonged to a real person and was not a purely fictitious document; affirmed his conviction for money laundering (18 U.S.C. 1956(h)),stating that the court did not commit plain error in not limiting jury consideration of âproceedsâ to the net profits of the internet fraud scheme; and vacated his 324-month sentence.