David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Mohammed Takhtarawanji, also known as “Abu Terak,” 59, formerly of Bridgeport and Tampa, Florida, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford, to 33 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for orchestrating a credit “bust out” scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Takhtarawanji participated in credit “bust-out” schemes on behalf of numerous individuals in and around Bridgeport during which those individuals, with the assistance of Takhtarawanji, voluntarily reached the limit of (“maxed out”) their own credit by obtaining merchandise and cash advances, with no intention of ever paying off the outstanding debt. Takhtarawanji then assisted with the submission of fraudulent or insufficiently funded checks to the credit issuers. After the checks were received by the credit issuers, and the payments were posted to individuals’ accounts, credit balances were temporarily reduced, thereby allowing individuals to draw on the credit lines further before the credit issuers discovered that the posted payments were fraudulent.
In some instances, Takhtarawanji assisted individuals with maxing out credit accounts at three or four times over the credit limit. Takhtarawanji took a portion of the proceeds for orchestrating the scheme. After the individuals’ credit was fully “busted out,” some of the individuals fled the country and relocated to Syria.
Judge Bryant today found that credit providers lost approximately $500,000 as a result of this scheme.
Takhtarawanji has been detained since his arrest on March 7, 2011. On October 21, 2011, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
This matter was investigated by special agents and a forensic accountant from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s JTTF. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen B. Reynolds.