A Worcester resident has been indicted on federal charges in connection with an alleged scheme to made fraudulent credit card purchases and pick up the illicit packages using fake identifications.
Yaw Okyere, a Ghanian national who told investigators he had overstayed his visa, was charged with aggravated identity theft and unlawful possession of five or more identification documents.
His indictment comes months after an alleged accomplice in the scheme, Roukayatou Damerogo, pleaded guilty to identity fraud and began cooperating with federal authorities.
She was arrested in September after being caught picking up a box of Fitbit watches allegedly purchased using a Brewster man’s stolen credit card information.
After her arrest, Damerogo told federal investigators she had done at least six similar jobs for a man she knew only as Nana Yao — a pseudonym federal authorities linked to Okyere during their investigation.
According to an affidavit filed by Postal Inspector Emily S. Burke, Okyere would provide fake identifications to Damerogo.
In the Brewster case, a fraudulent “mail hold” was placed for victim’s address with the U.S. Postal Service, causing postal workers to hold all packages in the post office. Damerogo then picked up the illicit box of Fitbits using a fake ID.
Damerogo said she would pick up ID’s from Okyere’s place of employment — the J&W Aseda Plaza market, whose owner Vida Cousey was indicted in a $3.6 million food stamp scheme in 2015.
“[Damerogo] also claimed NANA provided ID’s to other people, which she knew because she had seen other names on ID’s inside of NANA’s house,” the affidavit said.
Okyere also allegedly attempted to convince Damerogo not to cooperate with
“[Damerogo] said NANA sent people to visit her in jail and told her not to talk about NANA and the illegal acts in which NANA instructed [her] to participate,” Burke wrote. ”
In December, investigators began surveillance of Okyere’s home, watching him drive his black Mercedes and go to work at the J&W Aseda Plaza.
On one occasion, investigators called the number listed for “Nana Yao” in Damerogo’s cell phone while watching Okyere at work; his phone began to ring and he answered, helping authorities confirm his identity.
United States Postal Service Inspectors executed a search warrant at Okyere’s home on Wednesday and seized dozens of boxes allegedly containing six new computers, tablet devices, high-end women’s clothing, watches, pocketbooks and luggage.
“Okyere stated that the computers in the apartment were his,” Burke wrote in her affidavit. “The agents asked Okyere about the other property in the apartment and Okyere stated in substance that he was confused and gave evasive answers to the agent’s direct questions.”
On one of the computers, agents allegedly found files containing over 193 Massachusetts drivers with “various names and photographs.”