Arrests in Counterfeit Card OperationWebsite Card Sales Resulted in $34.5 Million in Fraud
Three men face federal charges for operating a website selling counterfeit credit and debit cards that federal prosecutors believe was responsible for an estimated $34.5 million in fraud losses.
In addition to counterfeit payment cards, the website sold holographic stickers to enhance the cards and to create fake driver's licenses, according to the U.S. Attorney's Offices for the District of New Jersey and the Western District of North Carolina.
The site, fakeplastic.net, was taken over by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Postal Inspection Service on Dec. 5, 2013. Additionally, the agencies made controlled deliveries of counterfeit materials ordered through the site, resulting in 11 additional arrests of alleged customers.
Authorities say some 400 "members" used the website, paying for the materials with digital currency, including Bitcoin.
Sean Roberson of Palm Bay, Fla., who allegedly ran the site, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud; conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods or services; and conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with authentication features, authorities say.
Roberson's two alleged co-conspirators, Vinicio Gonzalez of Melbourne, Fla., and Hugo Rebaza, of Palm Bay, Fla., are charged with conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud. Also charged is a customer of the website, Nashancy Johnny Colbert of Charlotte, N.C., who faces one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud.
"This ring of computer criminals ran an online one-stop shop where counterfeit credit cards were a mouse click away," says Anne Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. "As consumer fraud becomes more sophisticated, law enforcement and prosecutors across the country are joining forces to pull aside the veil of cyberspace anonymity and take down criminal enterprises that pilfer the identities of innocent victims for personal gain."
The FBI and U.S. postal inspectors have been investigating since January 2013 the online operation, which specialized in selling high-quality, custom-made counterfeit credit and debit cards, as well as holographic overlays, prosecutors say.
Roberson allegedly began selling counterfeit cards as early as April 2011 and launched the website in June 2012, according to the Justice Department. Roberson and his conspirators fulfilled orders for approximately 69,000 counterfeit payment cards and more than 75,000 holographic stickers used on drivers' licenses and payment cards, prosecutors say.
For the charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Roberson faces 30 years in prison plus a $1 million fine or twice the gain or less from the offense. If found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with authentication features, Roberson faces 20 years in prison plus a $250,000 fine or twice the gain or loss from the offense.
Roberson, Gonzalez and Rebaza face 10 years plus a $2 million fine or twice the gain or loss from the offense if found guilty for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods or services.
Gonzalez, Rebaza an Colbert, if found guilty for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud, face 30 years plus a $1 million fine or twice the gain or loss from the offense.