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Case 1:11-cr-00586-LO Document 2

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

C
Alexandria Division
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.

8 2011
.

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AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF

ci

...

Criminal No. 1:1 l-mj-991

AUSTIN DAVIDSON, Defendant

CRIMINAL COMPLAINT AND ARREST WARRANT

I? Samuel E. Messinger, being first duly sworn, hereby depose and state as follows:
INTRODUCTION AND AGENT BACKGROUND

1.

I am a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service (USSS) and have been

since May 2009. I am currently assigned to the Washington Field Office, Metropolitan Area Fraud

Task Force. My responsibilities include the investigation of violations of United States currency laws, including counterfeiting, money laundering, financial fraud, and forgery of United States securities. My responsibilities also include the investigation of criminal violations of identity theft,
access device fraud, mail and wire fraud, and advance fee schemes.

2.

I am assigned to this investigation and have participated in it since soon after it began.

My involvement has included reviewing financial records and case materials provided to me by
numerous individuals and financial institutions, as well as materials provided by other law enforcement agents. The facts in this affidavit come from my personal observations, my training and
experience, and information obtained from other agents and witnesses. This affidavit is intended to

Case 1:11-cr-00586-LO Document 2

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demonstrate that there is sufficient probable cause for the requested warrant and does not set forth all
of my knowledge about this matter.
PURPOSE OF AFFIDAVIT

3.

This affidavit is submitted in support of the following:


a. A criminal complaint charging AUSTIN DAVIDSON with:

Devising or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or

for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent

pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be


transmitted by means ofwire, radio or television communication in

interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals,


pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or
artifice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343
(wire fraud).
b. An arrest warrant for AUSTIN DAVIDSON.
SUMMARY OF SCHEME TO DEFRAUD

4.

Ourinvestigation has revealed that from at leastJuly2011 to the present, AUSTIN

DAVIDSON and others have been involved in a scheme to defraud numerous retail establishments

andindividuals intheEastern District ofVirginia and elsewhere. Specifically, this scheme has been perpetrated at various locations within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including in the
City of Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudon Counties, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Prince
George's and Anne Arundel Counties, Maryland.

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5.

Conspirators in the scheme, including DAVIDSON, use counterfeit business checks

to obtain various goods and services from numerous retail stores and individuals. Prior to the checks being returned as counterfeit, the conspiratorsin the scheme consume the goods, including at parties DAVIDSON and others throw at the rented properties. For example, as described below,
DAVIDSON and co-conspirators tendered counterfeit checks in the name of"JPMorgan Chase" in

order to rent a property and purchase catered food. JPMorgan Chase did not authorize these checks.
Accordingly, these counterfeit checks eventually are rejected (/.e., bounced). When confronted by
the defrauded business owners, home owners and other individuals, the conspirators either tender

new counterfeit checks, which are rejected again, or vacate the rental properties, making it difficult
for the defrauded business owners and individuals to locate them. In total, the USSS has calculated

a loss to victims of approximately $225,000 to date resulting from DAVIDSON'S scheme to


defraud.

6.

For example, as described below, one of DAVIDSON'S victims received two

counterfeit checks that were tendered for a lease ofa rental property in Washington, D.C. After one of the checks was returned, the victim called DAVIDSON to complain. DAVIDSON told the

victim to come to a residence located in Alexandria, Virginia to receive replacement checks. During this call, the victim was located in Washington, D.C. Ultimately, all four checks were rejected. The victim attempted multiple times to reach DAVIDSON via telephone, but on these
calls DAVIDSON tendered only excuses, not payment. As such, on this and other occasions, DAVIDSON caused signs, signals, or sounds to be transmitted by wire in interstate commerce for
the purpose of executing his scheme to defraud.

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7.

While staying in some ofthe rental properties, conspirators in the scheme sometimes

broke into desks and closets containing personal items belonging to the owners of the residences.

They then stole property from the homeowners, including personal checks that they used to pay for
services and merchandise. For example, two checks in one homeowner's name were used to

purchase a Mercedes-Benz from an automobile dealership, and one check was used to pay a waiter a

$400 tip for services rendered at a party that DAVIDSON and others hosted at one ofthe properties
they fraudulently rented with a counterfeit check. DAVIDSON and his co-conspirators knew that
these checks belonged to actual persons when they were used in furtherance of his fraudulent
scheme.

8.

For many ofthe retail stores and individuals targeted in this scheme, their local banks

transmitted electronic images of the checks in the check clearance process. For example, a check was negotiated at a Navy Federal Credit Union in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Credit Union's fraud investigator informed me the check was scanned into electronic form locally and transmitted
through wire, ultimately to JPMorgan Chase. A JPMorgan Chase representative informed me their

electronic equipment that processes checks with the subject Routing Transit Number (RTN) is

located in Tampa, Florida.

Accordingly, interstate wire communications were caused by the

counterfeit check transactions involved in the criminal scheme described in this affidavit.
FACTS IN SUPPORT OF PROBABLE CAUSE

"William Jones" and the Carlyle Group

9.

In August 2011, victim #1 ("VI"), a rental property manager, discussed renting a

property located in Washington, D.C. to a man who identified himself as "William Jones." Jones

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informed VI that he intended to use the rental property to host parties for clients of the Carlyle

Group, a large private equity firm located in Washington, D.C. On August 8,2011, co-conspirator
#1 ("CC1") presented two counterfeit business checks in the name of "The Carlyle Group" to VI. One check, #53175, was tendered for $2,500 for a security deposit for the rental ofthe property. The other check, #53174, was tendered for $2,499 for pay for the rent. At the time, V1 accepted the two checks and the rental ofthe property began. Shortly thereafter, check #53175 was returned to VI by
the bank because the account number was false.

10.

According to VI, VI called William Jones to ask why the check bounced. Jones

claimed ignorance and asked VI to come to another property in Alexandria, Virginia to obtain a
replacement. VI made the phone call from Washington, D.C. VI drove to that property, which is
located in the Eastern District of Virginia, and witnessed Jones sign two checks, #86078, in the

amount of $2,500, and #86077, in the amount of $10,000. Check #86078 was a replacement for #53175, and #86077 was payment for additional rent on the property in Washington, D.C.
11. VI stated all four checks were eventually returned by the bank as unpaid. The bank

explained that it was unable to locate the account numbers listed on the checks. Further investigation revealed the bank Routing Transit Numbers (RTNs) and/or account numbers were false. 12. VI stated she deposited all four checks at a Citibank branch located in Washington,

D.C. The bank's fraud investigator informed me the check was scanned into electronic form locally
and transmitted through wire. The first two checks were transmitted to Fifth Third Bank. That bank's fraud investigator informed me their electronic equipment that processes checks is located in

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Cincinnati, Ohio. Accordingly, for each of those counterfeit check transactions, an interstate wire
communication was caused

13.

Witness #1 ("W1"), the general counsel and managing director ofthe Carlyle Group,

stated that "William Jones" is notand never wasan employee of his company, nor was he

authorized to conduct any transactions on behalf of the Carlyle Group. In addition, Wl stated that the Carlyle Group did not issue business checks in the normal course of business and never had accounts with the banks the checks presented by "Jones" were purportedly drawn upon.
Identification ofand Interstate Phone Calls with Austin Davidson
14. VI stated that she contacted Jones numerous times on the cellular telephone number

202-731-8734. Assisted by Detective Vincent Tucci, Metropolitan Police Department, I conducted a


search of local law enforcement databases for this phone number. The results revealed that a police

report was filed by witness #2 ("W2"), a former employer of AUSTIN DAVIDSON.

W2

complained that he and DAVIDSON had a verbal confrontation that ultimately resulted in
DAVIDSON threatening W2's life. In the report, W2 stated one of the contact numbers he had for
DAVIDSON was 202-731-8734.

15.

On or about August 20,2011, V1 called Jones on the cellular telephone number 202-

731-8734 from Washington, D.C. On this and several other occasions, Jones was located in the Commonwealth ofVirginia when he received calls from VI. For example, as described in paragraph 10, during a telephone call when William Jones asked VI to come to Virginia to obtain a
replacement check, Jones specifically stated he was located in Alexandria, Virginia while he was on
the call. Similarly, on or about August 30,2011, V1 and Jones were trying to arrange a time to meet

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in Washington, D.C. to walk through another property Jones said he wanted to rent. During the call,
Jones told VI he was just leaving Leesburg, Virginia. VI stated she was located in Washington, D.C. during that call. As such, these telephone calls from Washington, D.C. to Virginia caused
signs, signals, and sounds to be transmitted by means of wire in interstate commerce. 16. On October 13,2011,1 showed a photo array to V1, who positively identified Austin

Davidson as the man who purported to be William Jones.

17.

Later, W2 provided Detective Tucci with a bill his company had received from

Verizon for services Davidson had ordered. The account was past due and approximately $2,764.56
was owed to Verizon. One of the phone numbers associated with the account was 202-731-8734.
CONCLUSIONS OF AFFIANT

18.

Based on the foregoing and my training and experience, there is probable cause to

believe that on or about August 20, 2011 and August 30,2011, in Alexandria, Virginia, within the
Eastern District of Virginia, Austin Davidson committed wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United
States Code, Section 1343.

19.

Wherefore, pursuant to Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures, I

respectfully request a warrant to arrest Austin Davidson.

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Respectfully submitted,

Samuel E. Messinger Special Agent


United States Secret Service

Sworn to and subscribed before me

on this JfoLdavof Deoemberffioil,s-\ ~^~


The Honorable Theresa C. Buchanan

Iheresa Carroll Buchcman

United States Magistrate Judge


United States Magistrate Judge