Cell Phone Scammer Sentenced

Modified: April 25, 2018 11:15am

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Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 32-year-old Bena Albaneh of Lackawanna has been sentenced by Erie County Court Judge Michael Pietruszka to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.

Starting in March 2015, the defendant, posing as the owner of a local cell phone store, coerced victims to buy cell phones for his shop. After purchasing the cell phones, the defendant promised he would “port them over,” so the victim would no longer be responsible for the bill. After handing over the cell phones to the defendant, the victims would continue to be billed by the cell phone companies.

The defendant scammed other victims by encouraging them to open credit cards at various local stores to purchase items for him, saying that he would pay off the credit cards with his own funds.

Albaneh scammed nearly 30 people. Some of the victims were women he met through the dating app “PlentyOfFish.”

Albaneh pleaded guilty to three counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree in March 2018.

As part of his sentence, Albaneh was ordered to pay $245,922.41 in restitution.

DA Flynn commends the investigative work of the New York State Police Special Investigation Unit and Detective Paas of the Town of Hamburg Police Department.

Candace Vogel, Chief of the DA’s Special Investigations Bureau, prosecuted the case.