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Maspeth man arrested in card scam

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A Maspeth man arrested earlier this month on charges of credit card fraud was detained for questioning by federal agents investigating the source of funding for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a published report said.

Ehab Elmaghraby, of 53-80 66th St. in Maspeth, was arrested Oct. 1 after agents searching his home discovered credit card machines he allegedly used to ring up false charges for profit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn by Special Agent Daniel Hughes.

But Elmaghraby was detained without bail after his arrest, which unnamed sources familiar with the World Trade Center investigation said stemmed in part from a probe into how the Sept. 11 terrorist acts were funded, the Daily News reported Oct. 3.

A permanent order of detention was entered Oct. 5 by Magistrate Judge Steven Gold, and Elmaghraby remains in federal custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Breslow said.

But Breslow said possible connections to terrorism played no role in Elmaghraby’s detention.

“He was detained for reasons quite separate from any terrorism investigation,” Breslow said, specifically citing his “substantial risk of flight” due to personal connections in Egypt.

Elmaghraby is an illegal alien against whom the Immigration and Naturalization Service has already issued a detainer, Breslow said.

His detention was also prompted by “the seriousness of the charges and our ability to prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” the attorney said.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that credit cards belonging to some of the passenger jet hijackers who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks still were being used in the United States as late as two weeks ago.

Federal agents discovered four credit-card machines and numerous charge slips in Elmaghraby’s home when his wife allowed them into the residence on Sept. 29, according to the complaint.

When they returned to the house the following day, agents discovered credit cards that had been issued in other people’s names.

Elmaghraby told agents he earned $35,000 in the past year from the scheme, which involved ringing up false charges on credit cards and splitting proceeds with the cardholders, the complaint states.

Also arrested and charged with credit card fraud was Amna Mahmoud, who said Elmaghraby convinced her in 1999 to start a fictitious corporation to transact fraudulent credit card charges, according to the complaint.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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