47ºF

3 charged with engaging in organized criminal activity

photo


HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Harris County Sheriff's Office investigators and U.S. postal inspectors have charge three suspects in a complicated and extensive credit card app fraud.

Starting in early 2014, financial crimes investigators with the Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began a joint investigation of a group suspected of being involved in "fraud app" credit cards where credit cards were applied for without the victims' consent, mailed to the victims, and stolen out of their mail boxes.

The investigation began with a report from Capital One Credit company to the HCSO detailing fraud app credit cards being processed through multiple square merchants as well as several businesses.

Two businesses were used to process the credit cards for large unusual amounts, and then able to generate cash from the fraud apps.

Those businesses were identified as Lace Warehouse and African Fashions owned by Maxwell Ezenwa and Lagos Island Café, owned by Christy Tifase.

The losses sustained to the victims exceeded $500,000 and dozens of identities were stolen.

Maxwell Ezwena was arrested previously in this case for fraudulent use of identifying information, although he will now face engaging in organized criminal activity.

On Wednesday, investigators arrested Shalewa Olayinka on a warrant for engaging in organized criminal activity .

Investigators say they found numerous fraudulent credit cards in his wallet upon arrest.

Tifase has an open warrant for engaging in organized criminal activity and is expected to surrender to authorities.