D.A. Bragg: Ring Indicted For Stealing Credit Cards And iPhones At Nightclubs, Purchasing $420,000 Of Apple Products And Luxury Merchandise

February 6, 2024

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., today announced the indictment of JULIAN POMALES, a/k/a “JUJU,” 33; BLERINA PRELVUKAJ, a/k/a “WINTER,” 30; PROMISE SHIPPY, a/k/a “P,” 20; and MALCOLM SCOTT, a/k/a “MAC,” 32, for using stolen credit cards and stolen phones’ financial applications to purchase more than $420,000 worth of Apple products and other luxury goods. The ring specifically sought out intoxicated individuals at Manhattan nightclubs, stole their phones and credit cards, and bought dozens of items late at night to resell for cash – a process they referred to as “Grinch-ing” – between October 2022 and August 2023. The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with various counts of larceny, identity theft, conspiracy, and more.

“We allege that these four individuals targeted intoxicated New Yorkers and used their credit cards and financial apps to purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise at Apple and luxury retailers,” said District Attorney Bragg. “We are working with retailers to make sure their business practices do not encourage large-scale, late-night unauthorized purchases. But with phone thefts yielding increasingly large payouts, we are also urging New Yorkers to take precautions. Never hand your phone to a stranger and always use strong passcodes. Keep an eye on your wallet and personal belongings, and frequently check your credit card statements for fraud. This investigation is ongoing. If you notice suspicious activity and think you may be a victim of identity theft, call us at 212-335-8900.”

According to court documents and statements made on the record, POMALES, the leader of the operation, identified targets inside nightclubs that he believed were wealthy or possessed high-limit, frequently corporate, credit cards. Then POMALES, PRELVUKAJ, SHIPPY, and others would engage those individuals, encourage them to become more intoxicated, isolate them from other patrons, and in some instances convince them to leave with members of the ring. At some point during these interactions the defendants stole the victims’ credit cards and cell phones. 

POMALES, PRELVUKAJ, SCOTT and others then went to Apple Stores and luxury retailers and made multiple unauthorized purchases using the victims’ credit cards and cell phones. In several instances, defendants charged tens of thousands of dollars in iPhones and MacBooks through repeat over-the-counter retail purchases, often during the early morning hours at the Apple Store’s 24-hour location on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. During one late-night visit to that location, they made more than $150,000 worth of purchases in a single three-hour visit. POMALES and SCOTT then sold the products in bulk for cash.

In phone calls and on social media, the defendants described their criminal activity as “Grinch-ing” and referred to themselves as the “Grinch-sters” or “Grinch boys.”  POMALES and SCOTT frequently posted pictures to social media depicting themselves with cash bundles, stacks of brand new Apple products, and full shopping bags inside of Apple Store locations. In another instance, POMALES filmed a music video wearing several of the items he purchased with stolen credit cards at Amiri, Loewe, and Christian Dior and posted it to YouTube.

Assistant D.A.s Joseph Pepe and Luis Morales are handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Kofi Sansculotte (Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau) and Jodie Kane (Chief of the Rackets Bureau and Acting Chief of the Investigation Division).

Paralegal Sofia Albi, Investigative Analyst Emily O’Brien, and Investigative Analyst Max Stahl assisted with the investigation. Investigative support was provided by Assistant Chief of the Investigations Division Jonathan Reid, Assistant Chief Michael Wigdor, and Chief Investigator Alexander Walter.  The High Technology Analysis Unit (Director Steven Moran and Supervising Computer Forensic Analyst Douglas Daus) also provided valuable support.  Former Investigative Analyst Isabella Fierro also assisted. 

D.A. Bragg thanked the NYPD, especially Detective Vincent Catalano and Sergeant Matthew Doherty of the Financial Crimes Task Force, Organized Theft Squad. 


[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.