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September 18, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Mount Vernon city worker pleads guilty to credit card fraud for plastic surgery

A Mount Vernon Police Department employee has pleaded guilty to using a credit card account created under another person’s name to pay for plastic surgery.

Fraida Hickson was charged with one count of credit card fraud on April 24 in federal court in White Plains.

Hickson used a Mount Vernon auxiliary police badge, according to the criminal complaint, to identify herself at the plastic surgeon’s office in 2017. She is listed on Mount Vernon’s website as director of civil defense, but now she works at the police department’s parking bureau.

The fraud was discovered in 2017 when a woman noticed her credit score had dropped. Her credit report showed an unpaid balance of $20,465 on a CareCredit card for charges to a New York City plastic surgeon.

The woman, who is not identified in the complaint, disputed the charges. She had never applied for a CareCredit card, did not know the surgeon and did not know the person who had used the card.

The CareCredit account was opened online in March 2017, using the woman’s date of birth and Social Security number.

Three days later, a man called Synchrony Bank, the issuer, identified himself as the woman’s husband and asked to add Hickson and another woman, who also is not identified in the complaint, as authorized users. He provided their dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

Synchrony approved the request and said the women were authorized for immediate access to the account.

Then Hickson and her accomplice called separately to verify their access.

Ten days later, Hickson and the accomplice had several procedures done by the surgeon. They charged the costs to the CareCredit account.

Hickson admitted to a Synchrony investigator, according to the complaint, that she had applied for a CareCredit card online. She did not know the woman in whose name the account was set up and she had no idea how she was added as an authorized user.

She reportedly told the investigator “she works ‘24/7’ and is really busy with her job and has ‘no idea’ how this happened,” the complaint states.

In January 2018 she told FBI agents that she had applied for a CareCredit card but was rejected, the complaint states. Then she got a phone call from a man who claimed to work for CareCredit and who said her application had been accepted.

She met the unidentified man at a gas station in the Bronx and paid him $1,500 for access to the account.

“Hickson acknowledged that this was an unusual way of doing business,” the complaint states.

She also reportedly told the agents that she did not pay attention to the name on the account when she signed for the charges and she does not know the woman.

Hickson is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 19 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas.

Hickson did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. She is represented by attorney Kerry A. Lawrence of Calhoun and Lawrence of White Plains.