He dressed in a wig and fake padded breasts and cruised popular D.C. nightlife spots on the prowl for drunken people he could rob.
Nyerere Mitchell promised revelers rides home inside his Range Rover and would whisk his passengers to drive-through ATMs and use their bank cards to withdraw cash — money they thought would cover their cab fares. But often, Mitchell took much more.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the District announced Monday that Mitchell, 50, pleaded guilty to five counts of felony fraud and admitted to stealing more than $220,000 through his scheme.
From April 2008 through November, prosecutors say, Mitchell conned at least 60 people through the scheme by pretending to be a taxicab driver.
Prosecutors said he often donned a women’s wig and wore fake breasts as a disguise and that many of his victims thought they had been robbed by a woman.
Mitchell would drive through areas such as Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan and Foggy Bottom to pick up passengers who were often drunk young adults. He would pull up to drive-through ATMs where the machine was on the driver’s side of the car, and then persuade passengers to hand over their debit cards and tell him their pin numbers so he could withdraw cash for them. But Mitchell often withdrew hundreds of dollars instead of the $10 or $40 fares his passengers believed they were being charged.
After the transaction, Mitchell often would keep a passenger’s debit card and switch it with another from a stash of stolen cards he had amassed. Prosecutors said he collected so many bank cards that he could hand his victim a card that looked similar to the one he just used. He would use the latest victim’s card for several days to make purchases or to buy money orders that he would deposit into his account.
When police arrested Mitchell late last year, prosecutors said, they found 205 stolen credit cards stored in a shoe box in his home, as well as the wig he was seen wearing in a bank surveillance video from one of the thefts.
Judge Milton C. Lee ordered Mitchell held until sentencing.