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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Tampa woman found guilty in credit-card fraud ring

A Tampa woman was found guilty for her role in an identity theft ring during which conspirators ripped off credit card numbers from unsuspecting customers at International Plaza.

Viviana Reyes, 40, was convicted of credit card fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the testimony and evidence presented at trial, Reyes and five others conspired to obtain credit and debit card numbers by placing key loggers — which intercept and store account information on card terminals — in stores. One such logger was at the mall’s Haagen-Dazs ice-cream store.

Using the stolen account numbers, they created counterfeit credit cards.

Reyes provided blank credit card stock, embossing machines and magnetic stripe re-encoders, investigators said. The group also sold to Reyes stolen credit and debit card numbers taken from the loggers, investigators said.

A search of Reyes’ house in February revealed a card skimming device and two thumb drives filled with hundreds of stolen account numbers, many from Haagen-Dazs, investigators said. Agents also recovered three counterfeit Florida driver’s licenses.

According to testimony, Reyes sold similar fake licenses to others to open lines of credit at stores.

A search of her phone revealed pictures of merchandise such as computers and tablets for sale, along with numerous text messages advertising electronics and gift cards for sale at reduced prices.

After making the fake cards, the group bought electronics and gift cards at Tampa area retailers, investigators said. The conspirators took these items to Reyes’ house, where she paid them in cash for the fraudulently obtained merchandise, investigators said.

Reyes faces a sentence of five to 30 years on each conspiracy, fraud and identity theft count, and a mandatory two-year consecutive term for each aggravated identity theft charge.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for March 6.

To date, agents estimate the loss to the affected financial institutions at more than $650,000.

Agents said the conspiracy was led by Michel Lermos-Hernandez, who remains a fugitive. Norma Cabezas-Hernandez, Danay-Crespo Rodgriguez, Lazaro Rodriguez and Abel Osorio-Cuok have pleaded guilty for their part in the conspiracy, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

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