Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft and Fraud in Scheme Involving Fake Purchases at Fictitious Restaurants
BOSTON – A Florida man, who now resides in Melrose, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to making fraudulent charges using stolen credit card information for purchases at fictitious restaurants that he and his co-conspirators created, all in an effort to defraud the credit card processing companies who paid the fraudulent charges.
Charles J. Pedoto, 67, formerly of Naples, Fla., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, two counts of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for Sept. 6 2018.
From April 9, 2014 to May 14, 2014, Pedoto and his coconspirators created fictitious restaurants, including Marshalls Steakhouse, Carroll Steak, Richards Steakhouse, MJ Fox Pub, and Robertson Steak, and opened bank accounts in the names of these fictitious restaurants. Pedoto and his coconspirators obtained stolen credit and debit card account numbers and information and then created counterfeit access devices (i.e. debit and credit cards) by re-encoding the magnetic strips from the cards. They then charged purchases at their fictitious restaurants and submitted the fraudulent transactions to credit card processing companies. After the fraudulent transactions were processed and the funds were transmitted to the restaurants’ accounts, Pedoto and his coconspirators withdrew the funds and mailed the proceeds for later pick-up by Pedoto under a fraudulent Massachusetts identification card in the name of Francis P. Rosen.
On May 9, 2014, law enforcement conducted a trash pull at Pedoto’s Naples, Fla., residence, which revealed multiple receipts indicating numerous credit card charges made at the fictitious Robertson Steak. The trash pull also revealed a white plastic card that had two credit card numbers encoded on the magnetic strip, one of which had a fraudulent charge to Carroll Steak and the other a fraudulent charge to Robertson Steak. Two credit card processing companies suffered losses totaling $160,395.
The charge of conspiracy to commit access device fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of access device fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence that must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Stephen A. Marks, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Boston Field Office; and Jeff Kelly, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Fort Myers Resident Office made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.