The U.S. attorney’s office in Newark today charged as many as 18 people for participating in a credit scam orchestrated by a Philadelphia woman, saying the group had stolen more than $200 million using more than 7,000 phony IDs. Philly.com reported that 12 people—including Vernina Adams, 31, of Philadelphia—were arrested in the scam .
That would appear to be the same Adams who pleaded guilty in January to one count of wire fraud and one count of identity theft in the federal court of California’s northern district. Adams was originally indicted in July with five counts of wire fraud and two counts of identity theft.
According to a press release from that conviction, Adams’ created several fake Internet businesses using the names of real people. She also opened up Paymate and other bank accounts under the names of those real people. Once those accounts were set up, Adams and her associates then used their own credit and debit cards to ring up thousands of dollars in sales at those fictitious businesses—money that was withdrawn by Adams from ATM after it was transferred to the new accounts. Several weeks later, she reported to the credit card companies that the goods purchased from those businesses had not arrived—and tried to receive a reimbursement on money that had allegedly been stolen from her. She admitted in that case that she’d stolen at least $70,000 from Paymate over the course of at least 15 transactions.
In the newest case, Philly.com reports, Adams used her Philadelphia-based One Stop Credit Shop to post fake credit histories to credit bureaus, then used those fake identities to take out huge loans—then once again made false claims of identity theft to fix the credit problems that arose when those loans went unrepaid. The operation spanned eight countries and 28 states, reported the Cliffview Pilot.
Adams is due to be sentenced in April for her role in the California case.