News and Press Releases

Federal Jury Convicts Tampa Woman On All Counts For Participation In Credit Card Fraud Ring

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 13, 2013

Tampa, FL – Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that following a four-day trial, a federal jury yesterday found Viviana Reyes (40) guilty of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, credit card fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and identity theft. Reyes faces maximum penalties ranging from 5 to 30 years in federal prison on each conspiracy, fraud and identity theft count, and a mandatory 2-year consecutive term in prison for each of the three aggravated identity theft counts. A sentencing hearing has been set for March 6, 2014.

Reyes was first indicted on July 29, 2013.  Four of her co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Another co-conspirator (Michel Lermos-Hernandez) remains a fugitive.

According to the testimony and evidence presented at trial, the individuals in this indictment, led by Michel Lermos-Hernandez, ran a credit card fraud ring.  Lermos, aided by others, obtained credit card numbers by placing key loggers that intercepted and stored swiped credit and debit card account information on credit card terminals at the International Mall, in Tampa. One device, in particular, was located at the Haagen-Dazs ice cream store. Using the stolen credit and debit card account numbers, Lermos and his co-conspirators then created counterfeit credit cards.  Lermos obtained blank credit card stock (cards), embossing machines and magnetic stripe re-encoders from Viviana Reyes, and also sold stolen credit and debit card numbers, taken from the key loggers, to her. 

After making the credit cards, Lermos provided the counterfeit credit cards to his co-conspirators, including his sister (Norma Cabezas-Hernandez), his girlfriend (Danay-Crespo Rodgriguez), and at least two other separately charged individuals (Lazaro Rodriguez and Abel Osorio-Cuok), to buy electronics and gift cards at Tampa area retailers.  The conspirators then took these items to Viviana Reyes’ house, where she paid them in cash for the fraudulently obtained merchandise.

A search of Reyes’ house, in February 2013, revealed a credit card skimming device and two thumb drives filled with hundreds of stolen credit and debit card numbers, many of which were compromised at Haagen-Dazs. Agents also recovered three counterfeit Florida Drivers Licenses, which were indicative of those that Reyes had sold to others for the purpose of opening lines of credit at area stores. A search of Reyes’ phone revealed pictures of merchandise such as Apple computers and tablets for sale, along with numerous text messages advertising electronics and gift cards for sale at greatly reduced prices.

To date, agents estimate the loss to the affected financial institutions to exceed $650,000.

This case was investigated by the Tampa Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the United States Secret Service (USSS), as part of the USSS’s Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft Task Force. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mandy Riedel and Suzanne Nebesky.

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