PORTLAND — A New York woman on Wednesday admitted to using counterfeit credit cards to make purchases at stores in several area cities and towns, including Auburn.

Xiu Fang Zhang, 21, of New York City pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiring to commit credit card fraud.

Prosecutors said between Jan. 3 and Jan. 6, Zhang and others used counterfeit credit cards to make purchases at retail stores and pharmacies at various Maine locations.

According to court records, Zhang used the bogus cards to purchase over $7,500 worth of items from Lowe’s, Home Depot, Bon-Ton, Rite Aid and Sears. She was paid by a co-conspirator for each fraudulent purchase, investigators said.

In Auburn, police Officer Bud Caouette responded to Rite Aid on Union Street in early January for a report of suspicious purchases being made, police said. After investigating, Caouette arrested the woman after finding several fake credit cards on her with various names on them.

It appeared that the cards were manufactured after being imprinted with credit card information stolen from several people in the area, according to Auburn Police Deputy Chief Jason Moen.

Auburn police Detective Nate Westleigh picked up the case, Moen said, and took several more reports of stolen credit card information. Westleigh partnered with the U.S. Secret Service , which took the case for federal prosecution.

South Portland police also assisted with the investigation.

Zhang faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She will be sentenced after completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.


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