A rap artist who performs under the name “Guerilla Black” was arrested at his Los Angeles home Thursday morning on a twenty-two count indictment from the Western District of Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.
Charles Tony Williamson, 33, is alleged to have purchased and used stolen credit and debit card numbers that were obtained through computer hacks of two Seattle area businesses – a restaurant in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood and a restaurant supply company in Shoreline.
Two co-conspirators, David Benjamin Schrooten, 22, of the Netherlands, and Christopher A. Schroebel, 21, of Keedysville, Maryland have already been indicted and arrested for hacking into and selling the credit card information from the Seattle businesses.
The investigation revealed that within hours of customers using their credit cards in Seattle, the card numbers were fraudulently used by Williamson and his co-horts in California and Nevada. Williamson will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles today.
“Today’s arrest shows that criminals cannot hide in cyberspace. We will prosecute all parts of the criminal gang – regardless of where they may be,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “I commend the cyber investigators of the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force for making sure that all the participants -- from the hackers to the end purchasers of stolen data -- are held accountable.”
According to the indictment, between January 11, 2011 and February 26, 2012, Williamson received and possessed at least 27,257 stolen credit card numbers, including cards issued by American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Loss figures are as yet incomplete, but close to $150,000 in fraud loss has been attributed to just 134 of the over 27,000 card numbers stolen.
The indictment alleges that Williamson communicated by e-mail with two co-conspirators, telling them that he wanted to purchase “dumps” of stolen credit card numbers “in bulk,” that is lots of 100, 500 or more.
Williamson indicated that he wanted “freshly” stolen numbers so they would be easier to use, since the customers would not yet know their information had been stolen.
Schroebel was arrested in November 2011, and has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced next month. Schrooten was arrested in Romania in March and was extradited to Western Washington last month.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Williamson is charged with: conspiracy to access protected computers to further fraud, to commit access device fraud and to commit bank fraud; two counts of accessing a protected computer without authorization to further fraud; six counts of access device fraud; eight counts of bank fraud; and five counts of aggravated identity theft.
Bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Access device fraud and damaging a protected computer are punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Conspiracy is punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory consecutive two year prison term.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force and Seattle Police Department as part of the Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma.