Not-guilty plea in gift card scheme
ALBANY A Brooklyn woman is accused of taking part in a scheme that ripped off stores across five states — including in the Capital Region — for a half-million dollars worth of gift cards.
Jamese L. Williams, 27, pleaded not guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to a multicount federal indictment charging her with conspiracy, identity theft and fraud.
According to the federal indictment, the scheme targeted grocery stores across New York and New England by using counterfeit credit cards to purchase thousands of dollars worth of valid store gift cards.
Williams and Terry R. Nicholas, 23, of Brooklyn, are accused of traveling to stores, trying to use various counterfeit credit cards until one worked, then purchasing the gift cards with the working card.
Nicholas has not appeared in court, and prosecutors declined to give his status.
In the Capital Region, the two allegedly visited a Price Chopper in Johnstown on Jan. 15. There, both Williams and Nicholas are accused of using a counterfeit credit card to purchase 10 gift cards, according to the indictment.
That same day, the pair then went to an Albany Price Chopper. This visit resulted in Nicholas trying to use six different counterfeit credit cards, but all six were declined.
Williams then tried five counterfeit cards of her own before finally getting a sixth to work.
With that card, she allegedly purchased a total of $9,600 in Marriott, Home Depot and Sears gift cards, according to the indictment. Nicholas then finally got one of his counterfeit cards to work, according to the indictment, and purchased $5,500 in gift cards. The indictment does not describe the transactions further.
The indictment also identifies similar transactions allegedly by the two on Dec. 23, 2012, at a Price Chopper in Torrington, Conn. Five days later, the two allegedly possessed in Torrington a total of 118 gift cards, along with 24 counterfeit credit cards, according to the indictment.
In the Capital Region, the indictment also identifies as “counties of offense” Rensselaer and Saratoga counties.
The entire alleged scheme lasted from October 2012 to January 2013. The total amount estimated to have been taken was more than $500,000.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey C. Coffman.