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California woman sentenced in Alaska credit card scam

Posted: August 31, 2011 - 6:50pm

ANCHORAGE — A woman was sentenced Wednesday for engaging in a credit card scheme in which she received tens of thousands of dollars in cash advances and used the money for plane tickets, rental cars, hotel rooms and a spending spree at a downtown boutique clothing store.

Amber Marquardt, 25, of Oakland, Calif., pleaded guilty to bank and credit card fraud. As part of a plea agreement, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline sentenced her to 16 months in prison and the repayment of $124,000 — the amount prosecutors say she illegally obtained in cash, merchandise and services during two trips to Alaska in 2009.

With time served, she will be allowed to go free but will be on three years of probation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward said.

The plea agreement says that between June 11 and June 18, Marquardt and another woman, who also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, fraudulently obtained about $117,160 in cash, services and merchandise. Marquardt returned to Alaska in late July and used bogus credit cards to obtain $5,524 in services.

According to charging documents, Marquardt worked in concert with others to pull off the scheme in which cash advances were fraudulently obtained at financial institutions using stolen and canceled credit cards and phony IDs. Prosecutors say Marquardt and her co-conspirators used the same scheme at stores and to obtain services.

According to charging documents, when the cards were declined Marquardt would make a call on her personal cell phone or a courtesy phone to another person acting as a representative of the credit card bank. The phony representative would instruct the teller or cashier to allow the transaction and provide an authorization code.

Court records say that Marquardt got the cash, goods and services over approximately eight days in the summer of 2009. On a single day in June, Marquardt went to four different bank branches and obtained $8,000 at each one. The next day court records say she obtained a total of $13,000 at two bank branches.

That same day Marquardt went on a shopping spree at a boutique clothing store and got $8,078 worth of merchandise, court records say. A co-conspirator used one of the stolen and canceled credit cards to get $4,598 in merchandise at an Anchorage computer store.

Prosecutors say other items fraudulently purchased included camera equipment, merchandise from bicycle shops and the rental of a Hummer.

The activities that Marquardt and the others were engaged in are not isolated to Alaska, Seward said.

“It is part of a nationwide scam,” she said, adding the investigation is ongoing.

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