Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ethiopian Man Charged with Credit-Card Fraud in Minnesota

Police say Nathenael Wondwossen Ashenafi broke into cars at the Burnsville YMCA, stole credit cards and used them at the Target in Burnsville.
A St. Paul man has been charged with credit-card fraud after police say he used stolen credit cards to buy iPods at the Burnsville Target store.

Nathenael Wondwossen Ashenafi, 20, is charged with four counts of financial transaction card fraud, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Ashenafi remains in the Dakota County Jail on a $50,000 bond. An omnibus hearing in his case is scheduled May 29 in Dakota County District Court in Hastings.

According to the criminal complaint, Burnsville police received a complaint of credit-card fraud at the Burnsville Target on April 26. The victim told police that his credit card had been stolen and used to buy $1,285 worth of iPads, and that the thief had attempted to buy another $1,285 worth of merchandise using his card.

Police obtained surveillance video from Target and determined that the suspect was Ashenafi, according to the complaint.

On April 30, police investigated two vehicle break-ins in the parking lot of the Burnsville YMCA. Officers spoke to the two victims, each of whom said credit cards had been stolen from their cars and used at the Burnsville Target.

YMCA employees reviewed surveillance video and cross-referenced it with the club’s identification cards. They identified two suspects, one of whom was Ashenafi, the complaint says.

Police subsequently searched Ashenafi’s car and home, where they found receipts and other evidence related to the fraudulent transactions in his car and backpack, according to the complaint.

Ashenafi’s criminal record includes a conviction for aggravated first-degree robbery in 2008, when he was 17. He was also convicted of credit-card fraud and aggravated first-degree robbery in two separate cases in 2011.