When people needed help paying utility bills, they received it from six Glen Burnie neighbors who used fraudulently obtained credit cards to cover the expenses in a rare scheme, according to a federal indictment handed down yesterday.
But it wasn't a true Robin Hood gesture. The defendants demanded a fee: half the cost of the bills, officials say.
The defendants made about $184,000 worth of purchases from March 2004 to January 2006, paying utility, cable and cell phone bills and buying big-ticket items such as televisions, computers and furniture, according to the 14-count indictment.
A federal grand jury charged the defendants with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a 30-year maximum sentence. The defendants are Stanley Wayne Pope, 40, of Glen Burnie; Michael Wayne Paul, 21, of Baltimore and Glen Burnie; Leland Ralph Glaze, 32, of Glen Burnie; Jennifer Carol Garnsey, 36, of Glen Burnie; Tymetria Tinese Queen, 24, of Glen Bernie; and Vickie Stewart of Glen Burnie.
In addition, Pope, Paul, Glaze, Garnsey and Queen face charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Pope, Garnsey and Queen also face charges of device fraud.
The defendants are accused of accessing a database that checks the credit scores of applicants for cell service. Once they gained access, they entered random nine-digit numbers, looking for valid Social Security numbers, prosecutors said.
The group is also accused of choosing Social Security numbers of individuals with good credit to apply for Sears credit cards, and with taking over existing accounts of Citibank credit card customers.
The group tested out the cards by making small purchases and eventually obtained access to $1.15 million in credit card purchasing power, prosecutors said. The method was unusual, said Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, the state's top prosecutor.
"This is the first time we have seen the scheme accomplished in this particular way," he said. "But in substance it is similar to other credit card schemes we have seen. The goal is to obtain Social Security numbers and account numbers that allow people to take credit accounts and run up the charges."
The indictment was returned on Feb. 14 but unsealed yesterday when Paul was arrested in West Virginia. He is scheduled to make an appearance in federal court in Baltimore on Tuesday.