Auto parts clerk admits fraud, impersonating IRS official

October 23, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A Silver Spring man pleaded guilty yesterday to impersonating an IRS official in a fraud scheme that rang up more than $100,000 in charges on unsuspecting people's credit cards, federal prosecutors said.

Gary James, 28, used his job as a parts clerk at a Takoma Park Trak Auto store to steal credit card and biographical information from dozens of customers, many of them senior citizens, according to court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

The information was taken from customers during six months last year. On two occasions, James called customers' homes, posing as an Internal Revenue Service official, to get more information, including birth dates and Social Security numbers, prosecutors said.

James used some of the credit information to pay monthly bills for cellular phones he had bought in the names of customers whose information he stole, prosecutors said. He also used the credit cards to buy auto parts and tires for cars he owned and charged Western Union money transfers on the cards, prosecutors said.

According to a statement of facts read in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, James charged $100,494 on other people's credit cards and had attempted to obtain another $80,304 in charges and loans that were not approved.

Because James bought most of the items and services over the phone, merchants are responsible for the losses. Credit card companies often aren't obligated to assume the cost of credit card fraud committed over the telephone, Rosenstein said.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, James could receive 15 to 30 months in prison. He pleaded guilty to using unauthorized access devices to obtain things of value and to impersonating an IRS employee.

Neither James nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

Pub Date: 10/23/98

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