A group of US Army National Guard members have been arrested and charged with a scheme to use bitcoin to purchase stolen credit card numbers in order to make fraudulent purchases from a number of military bases.
The Justice Department has said that three guardsmen – Derrick Shelton, James Stewart and Quentin Stewart – were arrested last week after being indicted earlier this month.
The men were accused of using bitcoin to buy stolen credit and debit card numbers online and then use magnetic strip re-encoding tools and software to apply those stolen numbers to actual cards in their possession.
According to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, the alleged crimes were carried out between July 2014 and May 2015.
The government said in a release today:
“[The defendants] selected and purchased stolen credit and debit card numbers of individuals and businesses holding federal credit union accounts, and those with billing addresses in or near Maryland. They bought magnetic strip card-encoding devices and software to re-encode credit, debit and other cards with the stolen credit and debit card numbers.”
From there, the government alleged, the re-encoded cards were used to purchase a variety of products, including consumer electronics, luxury items and gift cards from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, a retail chain that operates on military bases.
The three Guardsmen each face as many as 20 years in prison if convicted.
Another National Guardsmen, Jamal Moody, was indicted separately but was accused of similar crimes, including the purchase of stolen credit and debit card numbers with bitcoin. He plead guilty, according to the statement, and awaits sentencing.
A fifth Guardsman, Vincent Grant, was indicted separately and faces as many as seven-and-a-half years in prison on an access device fraud charge. All five Guardsmen involved were based in Maryland and Washington, DC.