New Jersey men to be arraigned for credit card fraud
By Phil Hirschkorn
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two Indian immigrants who were on a flight at the time of the terrorist attacks on America and have been detained since September 12 as part of the investigation into those attacks have been indicted, but only for credit card fraud.
The indictments against Mohamed Jaweed Azmath and Syed Gul Mohamed Shah (also known as Ayub Ali Khan), were handed down by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York on Monday.
Azmath, 37, and Shah, 34, are scheduled to be arraigned, before different judges, in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan Wednesday, at 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively.
The charges -- a single count against each man -- derive from a more detailed criminal complaint lodged against the two men in mid-December.
Azmath allegedly sold an identification card and a Social Security card in the name of "Azmath Jaweed" in mid-1999, and an unnamed co-conspirator made a $3,089 payment on a credit card in the name of "Azmath Jaweed" in January 2001, according to the indictment.
An affidavit from FBI Agent Jason Horowitz says that Azmath admitted to the illegal scheme whereby he obtained 11 different credit cards as part of a "bust out." As defined by Horowitz, that's when a perpetrator make excess payments on a credit cards with counterfeit checks; before the credit card company catches on, the perpetrators make cash withdrawals or purchases with the card.
Shah allegedly sold 15 fake credit cards in the name of "Ayub Ali Khan" in July 1999, and an unnamed co-conspirator allegedly wrote a $5,850 check for one of those credit cards in July 1999, according to the indictment. The check was drawn on a Citibank account that was opened at the World Trade Center branch. That card alone had an outstanding balance of $281,858, according to the Horowitz affidavit.
Horowitz said that Shah admitted to the scheme, to receiving $1,000 to $2,000 per card, and to sending some of the cash back to India.
Azmath and Shah, newspaper stand workers who lived in Jersey City, New Jersey, were in the air on a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Antonio, Texas, at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks. After the Federal Aviation Administration shut down the skies to commercial flights, their plane was forced to land in St. Louis. Azmath and Shah continued their journey on an Amtrak train.
They were arrested outside Forth Worth, Texas, during a routine drug inspection of the train. A Forth Worth Police Department report states that Azmath and Shah appeared very nervous to questioning officers. They were carrying $5,500 cash, two flat box-cutter type knives, and hair dye. Azmath had copies of numerous passport photos.
Azmath and Shah operated Newark's Penn Station newsstand. Shah worked there for almost five years and Azmath almost for two, according to their former boss. Azmath told police in Fort Worth he earned $300 a week. Both men were laid off Sept. 1 when the newsstand ownership changed.
The pair's one-time roommate, Mohamed Aslam Pervez, a naturalized American from Pakistan, has been charged with one count of lying to investigators about more than $100,000 in checks and money orders either deposited into his bank account or written from that account.
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