A Lakewood man who's currently believed to be in Israel orchestrated a rewards points resale scheme that cost credit card companies more than $8 million, an indictment returned Friday by a federal grand jury in Newark alleges.
Aharon Lev, 33, had help from co-defendant Timothy Gibson, 43, of Lehi, Utah, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said after both were named in an indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Lev also is charged with separate wire fraud and aggravated identity theft counts.
Lev used a string of aliases – among them, “Aaron Lev,” “David Gold” and “David Monroe” – while obtaining credit cards in other people’s names, Carpenito said.
He then made purchases on the cards to generate rewards points, after which he monetized the points and cancelled the purchases, the U.S. attorney said.
For nearly two years, Lev “recruited individuals to give him their personally identifiable information, such as names and Social Security numbers, which Lev used to open numerous small-business accounts in their names with the victim credit card company, Carpenito said.
“With Gibson’s assistance, Lev then used those accounts to make purchases that generated rewards points, which could be redeemed for frequent-flyer miles with various airlines,” he said.
“Once the points were issued, Lev cancelled the purchases and sold the points to Gibson, who resold them to third parties for use as miles to purchase airfare,” the U.S. attorney said.
Federal authorities previously released Lev on bond to Israel with the requirement that he return for an initial federal court appearance in Newark on June 9.
Gibson’s first appearance hadn’t yet been scheduled.
Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI and postal inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with the investigation leading to the charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah A. Sulkowski of his Cybercrime Unit in Newark is handling the case.
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