BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal grand jury last week indicted eight individuals for their roles in a prison-based phone scam that targeted retailers throughout the country, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Patrick Davis.
A twelve-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Ricardo Poole Sr., aka “Raoul,” 48, of Bessemer, Kortney Jovan Simon, 43, of Harvest, Otis Lee Bowers, aka “Big O,” 44, of Bessemer, Terry Ray Bradshaw, aka “Skitzo,” 39, of Remlap, Rennita Renee Perry, 28, of Bessemer, Kiara Reshell Anderson, 30, of Bessemer, Ricardo Poole, Jr., 25, of Birmingham, and Rhonda Thompson Poole, 47, of Bessemer with wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, as well as substantive wire fraud counts. Poole Sr., Simon, and Bradshaw are also charged with aggravated identity theft; and Poole Sr., Bowers, Perry, and Anderson are charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
According to the indictment, from September 2020 through May 2022, the defendants tricked retailers into activating gift cards under fraudulent pretenses and then used those fraudulently obtained gift cards to purchase merchandise and make other expenditures. The indictment alleges that, while incarcerated at Donaldson, Bradshaw called Home Depot stores throughout the country and used spoofing technology and social engineering techniques to pose as Home Depot executives so that he could trick employees into activating gift cards. Poole Sr, Simon, and Bowers then purchased products using those gift cards, which were received by co-conspirators and converted to cash. The indictment also alleges that from September 2020 through August 2022, Poole Sr., Bowers, Perry, and Anderson engaged in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, specifically mixtures and substances containing detectable amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, and synthetic cathinones.
The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.
The U.S. Secret Service Cyber Fraud Task Force investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward J. Canter and John M. Hundscheid are prosecuting the case. The Alabama Department of Corrections Law Enforcement Services Division provided assistance in the investigation.
An indictment contains only charges. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.