(STL.News) – John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston, today announced that a federal grand jury in Hartford has returned an indictment charging DEBRAN MOORE, also known as Debran Chanel, 21; SHAMONIQUE MACKEY, 21; DAIJAH FAGAN, 20; TAMIJAH HUNTER, 21; SHARNICE JACKSON, 19; LEONNA JONES, 21; and IMANI AITCHESON, 21, all of Hartford, with conspiracy and fraud offenses related to a scheme to defraud Victoria’s Secret stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The indictment was returned on October 6, 2020, and was unsealed after the defendants were arrested. Each defendant is released on a $100,000 bond.
As alleged in the indictment, beginning at least as early as February 2019 and continuing through at least October 2019, the co-conspirators devised a scheme through which they stole thousands of dollars from L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret stores. As part of the scheme, the co-conspirators shoplifted merchandise from Victoria’s Secret stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts. They then returned the shoplifted Victoria’s Secret merchandise through a “No Original Receipt” return, which allowed them to obtain gift cards for Victoria’s Secret in the value of the stolen merchandise (the “Return Step”). The co-conspirators then redeemed the gift cards at Victoria’s Secret stores for merchandise that slightly exceeded the value of the gift card, so that the excess amount was charged to a debit card connected to a co-conspirator (the “Redeem Step”). They then returned the merchandise purchased in the Redeem Step, with the refund for the entire amount credited to the co-conspirator’s debit card (the “Refund Step”).
It is alleged that the loss to L Brands from this scheme exceeds $100,000.
The indictment charges each defendant with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud. Both charges carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation is being conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the Connecticut State Police, Hartford Police Department and L Brands Loss Prevention. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala.