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Friday, August 04, 2017

Miami man pleads guilty to bank fraud

All WNY News     Friday, August 04, 2017    

STAFF REPORTS



BUFFALO -- Ernesto Alvarez Santos, 20, of Miami, Fla., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno, who is handling the case, stated that in January 2017, the defendant, along with two co-conspirators traveled from Miami, Florida to Hamburg, New York. In Hamburg, Santos and another co-conspirator were provided with numerous counterfeit access devices, which consisted of gift cards re-encoded with account numbers for actual credit card or debit card accounts.

Between January 23, and January 24, 2017, Santos and the others used 129 different counterfeit access devices to purchase gift cards at various Walmart stores in Erie, Niagara, and Orleans Counties. Upon purchasing the legitimate Walmart gift cards, the defendants transmitted the legitimate gift card numbers by cellular telephone to another co-conspirator. In addition, Santos and the co-conspirators possessed an additional 102 different counterfeit access devices, which consisted of gift cards re-encoded with account numbers for actual credit card or debit card accounts at various financial institutions. The account holders of these credit card or debit card accounts did not authorize use of their credit card or debit card account information. The total estimated loss amount is $120,689.02.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the United States Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Lewis Robinson.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 2.

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