A Northridge man has received 21 years in federal prison for a credit card and bank loan scheme that took money from banks, credit card companies, car dealerships and utility companies, according to the Justice Department.
Turhan Lemont Armstrong, 50, of Northridge was ordered to pay $3.3 million in restitution, as well as the forfeiture of two homes – one in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood of Northridge, and another in Perris.
According to Justice Department, Armstrong used stolen identities and Social Security numbers to obtain credit cards, open bank accounts, set up shell companies, apply for loans, and purchase homes and cars. He and his co-defendants often used the information of children and people who had left the United States because they would be less likely to monitor their credit.
In addition to using fraudulently obtained credit cards to purchase goods, members of the conspiracy used point-of-sale terminals maintained by “collusive merchants” to essentially make cash withdrawals on the credit card accounts. Point-of-sale terminals are the machines retailers use to process credit card payments.
Armstrong’s “criminal conduct was more than a series of bad decisions – it was a way of life,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.
At the end of his trial in May 2019, a jury found Armstrong guilty of 51 counts, including charges of conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud, money laundering, access device (credit card) fraud, interstate transportation of stolen vehicles and aggravated identity theft.
Co-defendants Mounir Deiri, 59, of Van Nuys, and Andres Velarde, 57, of Culver City, each pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges in this case and are serving federal prison sentences of 51 months and 60 months, respectively, according to the Justice Department.