It started, as so many tales on college campuses do, with parking tickets.
Former Rutgers linebacker Brendan DeVera needed money to pay off his parking tickets, so, according to NJ.com, he turned to the dark web to obtain stolen credit card numbers. Once in possession of the numbers, he transferred the stolen money to various Rutgers Express debit cards. He would then take those debit cards to a nearby Barnes & Noble, where he would purchase Visa gift cards, totaling between $211 and $823.
The scheme started on April 22 of this year and eventually roped seven other players in, all of whom have since been booted from the team and face criminal charges.
Someone at Rutgers Dining Services, which oversees the Rutgers Express program, noticed the fraudulent charges and notified the Rutgers Police Department. Rutgers police then began working with prosecutors to build a case.
“While the criminal activity was brought to law enforcement’s attention a couple of months ago, as you can imagine with something like this we need to time to gather the evidence, get the financial records,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey told NJ.com. “Rutgers University Police Department did a very good job on this case. We’ve been able to work with the credit card companies and we’re continuing to work backwards as we move forward with the investigation.’’
Authorities believe DeVera is the ringleader of the group, and as such he faces charges of second degree promoting organized street crime, third degree money laundering, third degree fraudulent use of credit cards, and third degree conspiracy to commit theft by deception. He entered a not guilty plea on Thursday. Other players implicated in the scheme are K.J. Gray, Edwin Lopez, Malik Vaccaro-Dixon, Syhiem Simmons, Christian Onyechi, Kwabena Marfo and Naijee Jones.
“We are very disappointed and frustrated,” Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs said. “We have been working extremely hard to build a culture of excellence across the department and this news detracts from the great strides we have made. We will continue that work.”