Lead Defendant Used Phony Credit Cards to Run Up Losses in Excess of…

Lead Defendant Used Phony Credit Cards to Run Up Losses in Excess of $1,000,000; Co-Defendant Receives 4 Months in Prison

SAN FRANCISCO LAWFUEL – United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that defendants Ming Li (also known as “Zheng Ling” as well as “Ah Mau”) and Zhou Ru Tan (also known as “Li Li”) have been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay fines in connection with their roles in a counterfeit credit card scam. Mr. Li was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine as well as more than $10,000 in restitution for possessing counterfeit access devices. Ms. Tan, who had a minor role in the scheme, was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. These sentences were the result of a four-year investigation by the United States Secret Service in coordination with local law enforcement in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara.

Mr. Li, 35, of El Monte, California, was originally indicted by a federal grand jury on June 15, 2004. He was charged with possession and use of counterfeit access devices as well as possession of access-making equipment. Mr. Li pleaded guilty to possessing over fifteen counterfeit credit cards. Mr. Li also admitted to using counterfeit credit cards to fraudulently purchase merchandise in retail stores in the Bay Area that resulted in a total loss of between $1,000,000 and $2,500,000.

Ms. Tan, 36, of Richmond, California, was indicted by the same grand jury with the same violations of federal law and pled guilty to the same violation as Mr. Li. Ms. Tan admitted that her actions in using counterfeit credit cards resulted in loss of more than $5,000.

“These sentences embody the United States Attorney’s Office ongoing commitment to work closely with the United States Secret Service to investigate and prosecute credit card fraud,” U.S. Attorney Scott N. Schools stated. “The possession and use of counterfeit credit cards is a scourge on our modern society. Counterfeit credit cards threaten the integrity of our banking system and result in higher costs to businesses and consumers. Those who choose to engage in such fraud will be prosecuted, and if convicted, face lengthy jail time. The Department of Justice commends the dedication of the Secret Service in bringing Mr. Li and Ms. Tan to account for their crimes.”

These sentences were handed down by the United States District Court following guilty pleas to violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(3), possession of counterfeit access devices. In additions to imprisonment and fines, the court also sentenced both defendants to three years of supervised release. Mr. Li is currently in custody and will begin serving the balance of his sentence immediately. Ms. Tan, who is currently out of custody on bond, was ordered to self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on June 1, 2007.

The remaining defendant in this case, Mr. Freddy Wong, has pleaded guilty to a similar crime and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 26, 2007. Mr. Wong faces the prospect of up to 10 years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000.

Timothy Lucey is the Assistant United States Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Ana Guerra and Cherell Hallett. The prosecution is the result of a four year investigation led by the United States Secret Service in coordination with and assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshal Service, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, the San Francisco Police Department, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, the Palo Alto Police Department, the Colma Police Department, the Richmond Police Department, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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