Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — BUFFALO — A Lockport woman was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for using an unauthorized access device and was also ordered to pay more than $50,000 in restitution.
Nicole R. Culver, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara for her role in a scam that involved three other defendants.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito, Jr., who handled the case, said that between September 22, 2011, and January 6, 2012, Culver conspired with three others to defraud American Express by obtaining 42 fraudulent AMEX credit cards in the names of 37 true persons who resided out-of-state.
Culver and others then used the cards to make unauthorized ATM withdrawals at local area banks and unauthorized purchases at various retail stores in the Lockport area. Culver and her co-conspirators illegally obtained cash and merchandise totaling approximately $50,654.53.
Co-defendants Ellen Flack, 34, of Gasport; Joshua Dunkelberger, 28, and Krista Dunkelberger, 27, both of Lockport were also convicted of knowingly using an unauthorized access device.
Culver, who faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both, pleaded guilty in federal court on Aug. 17.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Court records said the postal service’s investigation included surveillance footage of the group using the cards.