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Prolific cell phone and credit card scammer pleads guilty

A Lackawanna man charged with running cell phone and credit card scams pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of scheming to defraud in the first degree, according to the Erie County District Attorney's Office

Beginning in March 2015, Bena Albaneh, 32, posed as the owner of a local cell phone store and coerced victims into buying cell phones for his shop, prosecutors said. Albaneh would promise take over the cell phone account so the victim would no longer be responsible for the bill, but that didn't happen. Albaneh took the phones and the victims kept getting the bills, according to the DA.

Albaneh's other scammed involved encouraging people to open credit card accounts at local stores to purchase items for him, with the promise that he would pay those bills, which he didn't.

In all, Albaneh scammed more than 30 people, including women he met through the dating app PlentyOfFish, according to the DA.

Albaneh is scheduled for sentencing on April 10.

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