Fairfax County police have arrested and charged a Chantilly woman with false pretense. She is Ameena A. Chaudhry, 20, of 4224 Mayport Lane in the Birch Pond community.
Police believe that she sold items over the Internet and received payment for them, but never came across with the goods.
Det. Hilary W. Jenkins, of the Financial Crimes Section of the police department's Criminal Investigations Bureau, presented details of the case against Chaudhry in a June 27 affidavit for a search warrant. He sought permission to seek possible evidence against her in her savings account at Apple Federal Credit Union in Fairfax.
He wrote that, on May 27, county police received an e-mail from a John A. Carreirro of Swansea, Mass. Carreirro said he'd been involved in the bidding process for a 2002 Harley Davidson motorcycle, "Fat Boy," on eBay. When he didn't win the bid, he e-mailed the seller and said that, if the original winner defaulted, he would like to purchase the motorcycle.
The seller, whose screen name was "wu4h," replied that [she] would get back to him. The following day, wrote Jenkins, "The seller indicated that the original bidding winner had backed out of the deal and the motorcycle was available for $9,000." Carreirro said he'd buy the motorcycle and asked for identifying information, such as the vehicle identification number and the current title holder's name.
"The seller requested that he send a wire transfer of $9,000 to Apple Federal Credit Union in Fairfax," the detective wrote. "[He was also informed that] once the wire transfer [was] received, he would be told the location of the motorcycle."
BECOMING SUSPICIOUS, Carreirro then tried to contact the original winner. He was unsuccessful, but discovered that that person had entered a feedback on the Web site advising, "SCAM — Note for eBay buyers ... When it sounds too good to be true, it usually is." Carreirro then requested to meet the seller in person or to set up a method to secure the funds. But, wrote Jenkins, "At this point, the seller made no other effort to reply."
About a month later, on June 24, police here received a second complaint similar to that of the Massachusetts man. It had been referred by the National White Collar Crime Center/Internet Fraud Complaint Center. In this instance, a Daniel Lawrence of Pensacola, Fla., had won a bid on May 22 for a camera outfit on the Yahoo bidding Web site.
"The seller requested $1,675 be wired to [the same Apple Federal Credit Union savings account where Carreirro had been instructed to send his money] in the name of Ameena Chaudhry," wrote Jenkins. "On May 23, Mr. Lawrence sent the specified amount wire transfer to the account."
According to the detective, on May 27, Lawrence asked for a shipment date and was reportedly told that it would be mailed in two days. As of June 2, the camera outfit had not been shipped. "He e-mailed the seller again, who now stated [she] could not confirm that the funds were in the bank and that there was a problem that would take an additional two or three days to fix," wrote Jenkins.
Several additional excuses followed — which resulted in Lawrence requesting, on June 11, for the seller to indicate his or her intentions. He also advised the seller to either return the money or ship the camera by June 13.
He received no response. Wrote Jenkins: "On the same Yahoo Web site, it is indicated that another individual who goes by the screen name of "Patirop" also had purchased the camera outfit but, just like Mr. Lawrence, it was not received."
The detective concluded that the Apple Federal savings account referred to by the seller "has been identified as the account that has received one of the [alleged] Internet fraud victims' wire transfer. It has also been identified as the account directly associated with other attempted wire transfers from other potential [alleged] Internet fraud victims."
JENKINS STATED that he had probable cause to believe that the account holder, Chaudhry, was "engaging in false pretense and embezzlement which is directly associated with Internet fraud," and that her account would contain "documentation, receipts and currency from such [allegedly] fraudulent transactions."
He then requested a warrant to search Chaudhry's Apple Federal savings account for "documentation, bank statements, withdrawal slips, deposits, checks, U.S. currency, wire transfers and any other items of [possible] evidence."
The warrant was executed June 27, and police seized copies of checks made payable to Ameena Chaudhry, a copy of a bank statement, wire transfers and $9,784 in cash. On July 2, police charged her with two counts of false pretense. She was released from the Adult Detention Center, the same day, on $14,000 bond and has an Aug. 27 court date.