ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two Chinese nationals involved in a $1.1 million fraud scheme involving gift cards, have both pleaded guilty and one has been sentenced for their respective roles in the conspiracy.

According to court documents, Yuchen Zhang, 23, of Manassas, and Shouming Sun, 41, of Herndon, were part of a wire fraud conspiracy in which members of the conspiracy contacted victims by telephone or through social media and assumed fictitious identities. The conspirators falsely claimed to be from the Internal Revenue Service or an employee of a financial institution, and falsely told victims they were entitled to money or under some form of immediate financial threat, such as having their personal identification information compromised by known criminals. The co-conspirators used these ruses and others to trick the victims into purchasing gift cards and then sending to them the gift cards’ redemption codes. The redemption codes allow the gift cards to be redeemed without being in possession of the physical card. Zhang, Sun and others then used the fraudulently obtained redemption codes to purchase goods totaling approximately $1.15 million.

Sun was sentenced Oct. 7 to seven months in prison.

Zhang pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced Feb. 10, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Robert E. Bornstein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr, Fairfax County Chief of Police; and J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea and set the sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Viviana Vasiu are prosecuting the cases.

This matter was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office's Transnational Organized Crime Task Force which is composed by FBI agents along with local, state, and federal partners. Significant investigative assistance was provided by the Fairfax County Police Department.

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