Patsy or big fish? One thing true of Brian Wu was that he pilfered more than $2,000 in the Augusta area over the span of just two days.
He was first arrested in Aiken County for the same criminal acts in May 2015 and Richmond County sheriff’s investigators learned of Wu’s arrest about a month later, Assistant District Attorney Hank Syms said.
Wu, 52, isn’t the type of credit card thief the criminal justice system is used to seeing, Syms said. It wasn’t the credit cards themselves that were stolen but the credit card numbers.
The numbers were cloned onto cards in Wu’s fake name – the same one on Wu’s fraudulent driver’s license, Syms said.
There was no way any merchant could have known the transactions were fraudulent, he said.
Wu did it in Richmond and Columbia counties, in Aiken County and Florida, too, Syms said in asking the judge to send Wu to prison, treating him as the leader in what Syms believes to be a sophisticated scheme.
There’s no way Wu is a kingpin of any operation, countered defense attorney Debra Neumann. He has an eighth-grade education and has only ever worked as a cook in Asian restaurants.
Wu had a gambling problem, Neumann said, and owed people money. He was forced into the scheme. Wu told the judge he was supposed to get 15 percent, but got nothing.
Others drove him from his home in New York City to the Augusta area and told him what to do. He didn’t even have a vehicle, Neumann said.
But that makes no sense, Syms interjected. The phony credit cards could have been used anywhere. Why would he come to the Augusta area to use the cards – the same area where the victims lived, Syms asked.
Wu denied working or living in Augusta. He didn’t work at the restaurant where each of the victims had used their cards not long before the scheme began, Wu said.
The restaurant was the only common link found between the victims, Syms said.
Judge Sheryl Jolly sentenced Wu to 10 years on probation with the first 120-180 days in a state detention center.
According to Wu, in Aiken he was sentenced to one year in custody followed by probation and was sentenced in Florida to probation.