3 DC-area residents sentenced over credit card fraud scheme

Three people from the D.C. region were sentenced for taking part in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars being lost from local retailers and financial institutions.

Adiam Berhane, 50, had been convicted in a December 2022 trial for a number of charges related to bank fraud, trafficking in unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft, prosecutors said.

Berhane was sentenced to 10 years in prison on March 16.

Keith Lemons, 56, was sentenced to time served and home confinement for six months, and 51-year-old Tiffany Younger was given two years of probation.

Berhane conspired to carry out a scheme with Younger and Lemons that involved stealing credit card information to buy expensive luxury goods, gift cards and other things from local retail stores from at least May 2016 until October 2016, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said Berhane got the stolen identities of local residents to create the fake credit cards, recruiting Lemons and Younger to take part in purchasing items using the fake cards.

Items bought with the stolen card information would at times be refunded to the bank accounts Berhane controlled.

The 50-year-old also used the fake cards to buy gift cards that were redeemed at her business, which is Caffé Aficionado in Arlington, Virginia, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said that from June 2013 to July 2016, over a third of Caffé Aficionado’s income came off of a series of unusual redemptions of American Express gift cards, adding that the transactions began several months before the café opened around October 2013.

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Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

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