EZ Pass Fraud Using Stolen Credit Cards Seems Too Easy

March 30, 2012

When you say "take," do you mean that literally?

According to a federal criminal Complaint filed federal court in Manhattan on March 28, 2012, Rana Khandakar, 27, Brooklyn, NY; and Usawan Saelim, 27, Brooklyn, NY, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft arising in connection with an alleged Internet-based credit card fraud scheme whereby they used stolen credit cards to purchase EZ Pass tags and credits, which they then resold. The two defendants face a maximum prison sentence of 9 years.

NOTE: A criminal Complaint contains allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

According to the Complaint, from November 2008 to the present, Khandakar and Saelim used at least 50 stolen American Express credit cards to purchase EZ Pass tags and credits, which were resold through the drezpass.com and www.ezpasstag.com websites that they created.  The investigation, which began in December 2011, has identified at least 900 EZ Pass accounts, which incurred more than $100,000 worth of charges going back to July 2011.

Merchant Account Scam: In order to process credit/debit card transactions, a "merchant account" must be established with a card processor. These Merchant Accounts are linked to a bank account associated with the applicant business

As part of their scheme, the Complaint alleges that  Khandakar and Saelim established fraudulent online merchant accounts linked to phony businesses. The majority of charges were bogus and the goods or service involved were rarely provided to the charged customers.  Prosecutors cited an example of a site purporting to sell childcare-related products; however, instead of fulfilling customer orders, Khandakar and Saelim allegedly pocketed the bulk of customer payments. Additionally the defendants allegedly used phony merchant accounts, linked to businesses called "Tips," "La Pala Pa," and "Café 007," to make unauthorized charges on stolen credit and debit cards.

Through these fraudulent merchant accounts, Khandakar and Saelim attempted to make a staggering $3 million worth of charges on at least 385 stolen American Express credit card accounts.  Further, they are charged with attempting in excess of $2 million worth of unauthorized charges on more than 1,000 credit or debit card accounts at Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Discover, among others. In some cases, the same credit cards that incurred charges in connection with the fraudulent EZ pass purchases were also charged in connection with the fraudulent merchant accounts.

Khandakar and Saelim attempted to charge more than $6 million to the compromised accounts, and in total, they obtained at least $4 million worth of goods (such as a Mercedes-Benz), services (such as pet insurance), and cash. They also used the proceeds for mundane daily expenses, often using other individuals' credit and debit card accounts to order takeout food three times a day.