The former owner of Washington D.C.-area specialty coffee shop Caffe Aficionado has been sentenced to 10 years in prison following an identity theft and fraud scheme.
Adiam Berhane, 50, was convicted on numerous charges following a jury trial last December after she and two co-conspirators executed a fraud scheme that led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to D.C.-area retailers and financial institutions, according to prosecutors.
The scheme involved the manufacture of phony credit cards using stolen information that Berhane purchased online, according to court records.
Federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia said items purchased with fraudulent cards would be returned for cash funneled to bank accounts controlled by Berhane, including the bank account for Caffe Aficionado. Court records show that more than one third of the cafe’s income from June 2013 to July 2016 came from American Express gift card redemptions.
Berhane opened Caffe Aficionado in Rosslyn, Virginia, in October of 2013, serving coffees from former California-based outfit Handsome Coffee Roasters, alongside pastries and sandwiches. The shop was shut down in October of 2016 following a police raid in which Berhane was arrested.
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