NEWARK – A grand jury indicted two men, one from Ocean County, and the other from Utah, with carrying out a scheme to obtain credit cards in the names of third parties, make purchases on the cards to generate rewards points, monetize the points, and cancel the purchases.
The two indicted men include Aharon Lev, a/k/a “Aaron Lev,” a/k/a “Aron Lev,” a/k/a “David Gold,” a/k/a “David Monroe,” 33, of Lakewood, and Timothy Gibson, 43, of Lehi, Utah.
Both are charged by indictment with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Lev is also charged by indictment with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
Lev was previously charged by complaint and released on bond to Israel; he is required to return to New Jersey by June 9, to be arraigned on the indictment. Gibson will make his initial appearance at a date to be determined.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between August 2014 through May 2016, Lev recruited individuals to give him their personally identifiable information, such as names and Social Security numbers, which Lev used to open numerous small-business accounts in their names with the victim credit card company.
With Gibson’s assistance, Lev then used those accounts to make purchases that generated rewards points, which could be redeemed for frequent-flyer miles with various airlines.
Once the points were issued, Lev cancelled the purchases and sold the points to Gibson, who resold them to third parties for use as miles to purchase airfare. Over two years, the scheme cost the credit card company more than $8 million in fees paid to the airlines for acceptance of points for miles.
Each charge of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, restitution, and forfeiture while each charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. If found guilty of that latter charge it would be served consecutive to any sentence on the wire-fraud and conspiracy charges.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and postal inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James Buthorn, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah A. Sulkowski of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Cybercrime Unit in Newark.