“Grinchsters” Indicted for Alleged Theft of Manhattan Clubbers’ Credit Cards

Four defendants–ranging in age from 20 to 32–sought out “intoxicated individuals at Manhattan nightclubs,” according to prosecutors. They used stolen credit card and phone info to make late-night bulk purchases from Apple and luxury stores, which they would resell. They termed this activity “grinching.”

| 09 Feb 2024 | 01:26

Four people–Julian Pomales, Blerina Prelvukaj, Promise Shippy, and Malcolm Scott–have been indicted for an alleged string of credit card and phone thefts at Manhattan nightclubs between Oct. 2022 and August 2023, according to prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

The defendants were identified as Julian Pomales, Blerina Prelvukaj, Promise Shippy, and Malcolm Scott. All are facing various counts for larceny, identity theft, and conspiracy.

Prosecutors allege that defendants sought out intoxicated individuals at Manhattan nightclubs, especially ones with high-limit or corporate cards. Pomales served as the leader for these operations.

The defendants would ply the clubgoers with drinks, in some cases even convincing them to leave the club alongside them. At some point during the revelry, the victim’s cards or phones would be snagged, prosecutors said.

The four defendants would then allegedly take the cards to either the Apple Store or a luxury clothing outlet, such as Amiri or Christian Dior. One such store was the 24-hour Apple location on Fifth Ave., where during one three-hour visit they allegedly spent $150,000 on items such as MacBooks and iPhones.

Pomales and Scott would then resell these items for cash, prosecutors claim. Bragging reportedly followed. The two men would frequently post social media photos showing them flexing stacks of cash, or bags laden with goods from the Apple Store. Pomales even shot a music video in which he wearing ill-gotten clothing, prosecutors claim. He reportedly put it on YouTube.

The men referred to the process as “grinching,” and would refer to themselves as the “grinch boys” or “grinchsters.” At a court appearance for Pomales and Prelvukaj, prosecutors showed photos of a glittery “Grinch” chain that Pomales was supposedly fond of wearing. Both defendants pled not guilty to their charges.

The case echoes multiple organized drugging-and-theft cases from 2023, including one that the Manhattan D.A. brought last June against Kenwood Allen and Sean Shirley. The two men had reportedly drugged and killed five people in Manhattan as part of a similar 2022 robbery spree, including the 35 year-old fashion designer Katie Gallagher. Murder charges followed.

Six other men were arrested last year for a series of club robberies that targeted the LGBTQIA+ community in 2021 and 2022, resulting in the deaths of 25 year-old Julio Ramirez and 34 year-old John Umberger. One of the arrested men in that case, 30 year-old Eddie Ashley, pled guilty to charges including identity theft and grand larceny in October.