CreditCards.com

Protecting yourself, Research, regulation, industry reports

Criminal Charges, Volume XXX: Divas gone wrong

Jeremy Simon

The economy may be in the toilet, but you’d never know it from observing the lifestyles led by the fraudsters in this week’s edition of Criminal Charges. The women profiled used other people’s plastic to fund lifestyles that included spas, designer clothing and cosmetic surgery.

Maybe they were just trying to do their part to revive the global economy?

‘Project Tuna’ nets spa owner
Canadian spa owner Julia Sung apparently decided that rather than steal the competition’s clients, she would instead steal from the competition’s clients.

The owner of Toronto’s Jung Spa, Sung stands accused of participation in a scheme that victimized over 200 customers of the Elmwood Spa. Sung’s criminal crew allegedly included her husband Filip Djukic and another couple, Goran Sadic and Milena Sadic. The Canuck fraudsters are “suspected to have obtained credit card numbers by fraudulent means, manufacturing new cards, then going on lavish shopping sprees, according to a press release from the Toronto Police Service. The investigation that captured the thieves apparently was named “Project Tuna” because an investigator was eating a tuna sandwich.

Despite the group’s upscale aims, the technique targeting Elmwood Spa wasn’t anything especially fancy. “In a ‘sophisticated’ yet ‘simple’ operation, police allege criminals went into the Yorkville spa shortly before closing [one night] early last year, distracted employees and removed the PIN pad device used to swipe customer cards,” the National Post reports. “The next day, police allege, the criminals replaced the machine with their own PIN pad device that recorded and stored clients financial information.”

According to police, a portion of that stolen card data was then used to renovate and furnish the newly opened Jung Spa.  They also splurged on clothing: “From Holt Renfrew to Prada, from elegant footwear to food delicacies and pricey computers, the accused are alleged to have bought nothing but the best for themselves, reports the Globe and Mail.

Ironically, in a prior interview with the National Post, Sung outlined the frugal lifestyle that enabled her to open a spa in the midst of a recession. “In my life, there’s no luxury spending. I eat, pay my mortgage and hope my entire life savings will survive, Sung had told the paper.

Fake doctor snatches credit cards
Our neighbors to the north aren’t the only ones producing thieves with a taste for the luxe life. Alexandra Pierre of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., allegedly made visits to medical facilities and health clubs in order to steal credit cards from locker rooms and changing areas. That plastic was then used to purchase thousands of dollars worth of designer shoes, handbags and jewelry. Westchester, N.Y., police caught Pierre on Feb. 24 as she prowled the halls of New York Medical College dressed in a stolen doctor’s lab coat and wearing a fake ID card.

That outfit must have been a step down for Pierre, who apparently was more comfortable with clothes, shoes and handbags from the likes of Prada, Manolo Blahnik, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Yves St. Laurent, according to myFOXNY.com.

“After her arrest, police with a search warrant signed by Dobbs Ferry Village Justice Stephen Grant said they found more than $47,000 worth of allegedly stolen merchandise in her home, including dozens of pairs of designer shoes and bags, a $7,000 set of black diamond earrings, and other jewelry and electronics. The Journal News reports. “Also found were $8,000 worth of gift cards from stores including Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. Police seized Pierre’s 2005 Mercedes-Benz.

It’s doubtful her prison outfit will bear a designer logo.

Thief busted for stolen breast implants during her spa treatment
Recovering the items stolen by Sung and Pierre was child’s play compared to getting back what Julianne Johnson paid for with purloined plastic. That’s because Johnson’s purchases included breast augmentation surgery.

Johnson, who hails from Bradenton, Fla., apparently treated herself to some cosmetic surgery and a Valentine’s Day getaway with her spa treatment reportedly interrupted when police arrested her. “Johnson was staying at the resort with a man who authorities say she cheated out of $20,000 in a botched business deal,” the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. “Authorities say Johnson also used the man’s identity to open new credit cards and spent more than $3,000 on the accounts.”

At least he wasn’t alone in falling for her schemes: Johnson is also accused of charging over $5,600 on another man’s plastic at Florida Coastal Plastic Surgery, the Manatee Surgical Center and the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens.

According to the paper, “Johnson had previously written several invalid checks to pay for a breast augmentation at the Manatee County doctor’s office,” the report said. A doctor said Johnson received the implants on Dec. 19 but did not show up for a follow-up appointment and did not answer phone calls.

See related: Criminal Charges: Volume XIV

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.