Caffe Aficionado in Rosslyn (1919 N. Lynn Street) is closed following a police raid this morning (Friday).
Police say the cafe’s owner, Adiam Berhane, was involved in a scheme to profit from cloned credit cards. She and her business partner, Clark Donat, were both arrested and charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit credit card fraud.
From an Arlington County Police Department press release:
Following a joint investigation by local, state and federal partners, two suspects involved in a large-scale credit card cloning fraud have been identified and taken into custody. Adiam Berhane, 44, of Arlington VA and Clark Donat, 44, of Arlington VA have been arrested and charged with money laundering and two counts of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud. Both suspects are being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility. Additional charges are pending.
In November 2015, a victim with no known ties to Arlington County reported numerous attempted credit card transactions in the County. Law enforcement began an investigation into possible credit card cloning and through investigative leads, Adiam Berhane was identified as a possible suspect. Further investigation revealed that Berhane’s coffee shop, Caffé Aficionado located at 1919 N. Lynn Street, redeemed hundreds of thousands of dollars in pre-payable gift cards. It is believed that these gift cards were purchased using cloned credit cards.
The investigation into the activities of Berhane and Donat are ongoing. Anyone with information about these incidents or who believes they may be a victim of this fraud is asked to contact the Arlington County Financial Crimes Unit by email at [email protected]
. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
The arrests of Berhane and Donat are the direct result of outstanding police work and the leveraging of resources during the joint investigation by the Arlington County Police Department, the United States Secret Service National Capitol Region Fraud Task Force, Metropolitan Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland National Capital Park Police Montgomery County Division, City of Bowie Police Department, the Commonwealth of Virginia Office of the Attorney General, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and with assistance from various financial institutions and retailers.
Police also executed a search warrant Friday morning at a residence at the high-end Gaslight Square apartments in Rosslyn (1700 Clarendon Blvd), hauling out boxes of evidence and at least one computer.
Update at 1:50 p.m. — A reader points out that it appears Berhane was previously convicted of credit card fraud in New York City. Police tell ARLnow.com that Berhane has used numerous aliases in the past, including Carole Jones, Deborah Hyman and Adiam Testamichael.
Update at 3:15 p.m. — An individual who met an ARLnow.com employee at Caffe Aficionado, while our office was in Rosslyn, was apparently a victim of the fraud. The individual, who did not want her name used, sent an email to our employee a few days after the meeting in 2014, warning that her credit card information might have been stolen from the cafe. Her credit card had been used to buy three $500 Macy’s gift cards. The incident was reported to police.
Photos (top) by Samantha Moore