By Aaron Blevins, 10/25/2012
A Park La Brea resident has been sentenced to 76 months in federal prison for his role in an international identity theft and credit card fraud scheme that targeted elderly victims.
Doren Harold Ward, 37, of Los Angeles, was sentenced to the prison term and ordered to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution.
During the Oct. 23 sentencing hearing, Ward continued to deny that he knew the credit cards he abused belonged to 45 victims of identity theft.
“Identity theft is a serious crime that often has far-reaching effects on its victims,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This lengthy prison sentence should also have a far-reaching impact, sending a powerful message to thieves like Ward that their criminal conduct will lead to severe consequences.”
Ward has been in custody since he was arrested in October, 2011. On the day of his arrest, authorities searched his apartment and found personal identifying information — including social security numbers and dates of birth — belonging to 14 victims. The evidence presented at trial earlier this year showed that Ward was involved in a conspiracy that took control of 45 credit cards, most of which belonged to elderly victims.
As part of the scheme, British co-conspirators impersonated the typically elderly cardholders and asked credit card companies to send replacement cards to “mail drops” in Southern California. After the fraudulently obtained replacement cards arrived in Southern California, Ward and other members of the scheme used the credit cards to purchase or attempt to purchase more than $300,000 worth of luxury goods, including Rolex watches and items sold at Louis Vuitton, Gearys in Beverly Hills and Ben Bridge Jeweler stores.
Even though investigators with the Costa Mesa Police Department arrested Ward in August 2011 after he tried to buy a $31,000 Rolex watch at a store in South Coast Plaza, Ward continued to use fraudulently obtained credit cards. At trial, some of the identity theft victims testified that they had no knowledge anyone was using their credit cards or identity at luxury stores in Southern California.