Two sentenced in Utah gift card conspiracy, wire fraud scheme
Mar 20, 2023, 9:26 PM | Updated: 9:27 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Two foreign nationals were sentenced to prison Monday after they pleaded guilty to participating in a $217,200 gift card conspiracy and wire fraud scheme in Utah.
Chaohui Chen, 46, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, followed by 36 months supervised release, while Wenyi Zheng, 46, was sentenced to 36 months imprisonment and 36 months supervised release. The two were also ordered to pay $217,200 each in restitution.
Chen and Zheng’s Walmart gift card conspiracy and wire fraud scheme occurred within Utah and elsewhere in June 2019, according to court documents.
“The purpose of the scheme was to defraud individuals and obtain money and property for the personal gain of the defendants and others,” read a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Utah.
The crimes were typically executed as such:
- unnamed third parties would make false and fraudulent phone calls to the victims, sometimes claiming to be from the Social Security Administration
- the callers would convince the victims to purchase prepaid gift cards and provide them with the 16-digit gift card numbers and unique pins in return for a cashier’s check in the amount of the gift card purchased
- Chen and Zheng would then redeem the gift cards at various stores (to purchase household items and other prepaid gift cards) and not return the money to the victims
“Throughout the scheme, the defendants used or caused another to use interstate wire communications facilities for the purpose of carrying out the crime,” the release stated.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations.