8 Rutgers University football players charged with credit card fraud

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey -- Eight Rutgers University football players have been charged with taking part in a credit card fraud scheme.

Four of the players previously left the team during the course of the ongoing investigation, while the status of the other four will be determined by the program.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office and the Rutgers University Police Department that began this spring.

Authorities say the defendants obtained credit card numbers belonging to others and transferred funds to various RU (Rutgers University) Express Accounts for personal use. It is alleged they netted around $11,000 between April 22 and May 3 of this year.

"There are actual victims whose credit card information was taken, not by these students but others, and the students put the money on their RU credit accounts," Middlesex County prosecutor Andrew Carey said.

The defendants were each charged with third-degree conspiracy to commit theft by deception.

The suspects were identified as:
--Kai J. Gray, 21, of Union, New Jersey
--Brendan R. Devera, 18, of Totowa, New Jersey
--Naijee R. Jones, 18, of Erial, New Jersey
--Edwin A. Lopez, 19, of Camden, New Jersey
--Kwabena Marfo, 21, of Alexandria, Virginia
--Christian C. Onyechi, 19, of West Orange, New Jersey
--Syhiem Simmons, 20, of Brooklyn, New York
--Malik Vaccaro-Dixon, 21, of Port Charlotte, Florida

Gray was also charged with second-degree promoting organized street crime and third-degree money laundering, while Devera was additionally charged with second-degree promoting organized street crime, third-degree money laundering, and third-degree fraudulent use of credit cards.

Jones and Onyechi were also charged with third-degree fraudulent use of credit cards, while Lopez, Marfo, Simmons and Vaccaro-Dixon were additionally charged with third-degree money laundering and third-degree fraudulent use of credit cards.

"We are very disappointed and frustrated," Rutgers University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Pat Hobbs said in a statement. "We have been working extremely hard to build a culture of excellence across the department, and this news detracts from the great strides we have made. We will continue that work."
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