Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Houston Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Identity Theft Charges, Says Justice Department

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Chad Hatten, 35, of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to a five-count superseding indictment charging him with four counts of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Texas announced today. Hatten will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal on February 28, 2006 in Houston, and faces up to 52 years in prison and fines of up to $1,000,000.

As part of his plea, Hatten admitted to being a member of the Shadowcrew criminal organization, an international criminal organization with numerous members that promoted and facilitated a wide variety of criminal activities including, among others, electronic theft of personal identifying information, credit card and debit card fraud, and the production and sale of false identification documents. As a member of the Shadowcrew criminal organization, Hatten used the Shadowcrew website ( http://releases.usnewswire.com/redir.asp?ReleaseID=56029&Link=http://www.shadowcrew.com) to engage in credit card fraud and gift card vending (i.e., purchasing gift cards from retail merchants at their physical stores using counterfeit credit cards and reselling such cards for a percentage of their actual value). In addition to possessing and using stolen credit card numbers to obtain things of value, Hatten was also charged with possessing equipment used to encode counterfeit credit cards with stolen numbers.

Hatten's guilty plea represents a continuing effort to prosecute individuals targeted during Operation Firewall, a year- long investigation undertaken by the U.S. Secret Service, working in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey; the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice; and other U.S. Attorneys' offices and law enforcement agencies. The undercover investigation led to the arrests of 21 individuals in the United States on criminal complaints in October 2004. Additionally, several individuals were arrested in foreign countries in coordination with the domestic arrests. For more information, visit: http://releases.usnewswire.com/redir.asp?ReleaseID=56029&Link=http://www.cybercrime.gov/mantovaniIndict.htm.

This case was investigated by U.S. Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman and Kimberly Kiefer Peretti and Thomas Dukes from the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice.


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