ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — A Chinese national living in Washington, D.C. was convicted Monday after leading an international gift card fraud scheme.
Qinbin Chen, 29, was charged with and convicted of conspiracy, access device fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Court records show that Chen led a scheme with co-conspirators that received gift cards and debit cards purchased by victims, who were mostly elderly, from throughout the U.S., after which the cards were trafficked, used and laundered.
Victims of the scheme were allegedly told a range of lies by co-conspirators, such as their social security numbers had been compromised, their bank accounts had been hacked, or there was an issue with their computer software, in order to manipulate the victims into buying Walmart gift cards, according to the Attorney’s Office.
The victims sent the gift cards to co-conspirators who soon transferred them to Chen, who then employed conspirators to use the Walmart gift cards to buy other gift cards.
Chen then sold those ‘clean’ gift cards to international buyers. Though the Attorney’s Office said Chen reported little legitimate income to authorities, his bank accounts showed hundreds of thousands of dollars in incoming international transfers.
Evidence at trial showed that Chen trafficked about $7 million in fraudulently obtained gift cards.
Chen faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison when sentenced Dec. 18.
Chen is the seventh conspirator convicted as part of the investigation. Co-conspirators He Li, 45; Shouming Sun, 44; Jin Hong, 40; Yuchen Zhang, 26; Mouluan Wu, 47; and Zhizhan Chen, 26, have pleaded guilty to related charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.