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Press Release

Cape Coral Trio Convicted For Their Roles In A Multi-Million Dollar Credit Card Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Fort Myers, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that a federal jury has found Carlos Tejeda (62, Cape Coral), Juan Tejeda (35, Cape Coral), and Pedro Pelaez (59, Cape Coral) guilty in connection with their involvement in a large-scale credit card fraud scheme which operated in Cape Coral between late-2015 and mid-2018. Father and son ringleaders, Carlos and Juan Tejeda, were each convicted of 44 federal crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit money laundering, production of counterfeit access devices, and possession of device-making equipment.  For his role in the fraud, Pelaez was convicted of 11 federal crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of more than 100 years in federal prison, including 2-year minimum mandatory sentences for each aggravated identity theft conviction. Their sentencing hearings are yet to be scheduled. All three defendants were remanded into custody pending sentencing.

According to evidence presented at trial, Carlos Tejeda recruited several friends and associates, including co-defendant Pedro Pelaez, to create shell companies, obtain credit card processing terminals for their shell companies, and then permit Carlos Tejeda to swipe counterfeit credit cards fraudulently encoded with stolen credit and debit card numbers using the shell company credit card terminals. Evidence showed that Juan Tejeda’s primary role was to encode the counterfeit cards for his father Carlos Tejeda, but that he personally swiped counterfeit cards on shell company terminals as well. Each fraudulent transaction was typically between $1,000 and $3,000, but the same stolen card number was often used several times across multiple shell companies before victim cardholders from across the United States even knew their card numbers had been compromised. 

After the stolen funds were deposited into shell company bank accounts, the shell company owners would kickback a pre-determined percentage of the fraudulent proceeds to Carlos or Juan and keep the remainder for themselves. In total, nine shell companies were used to perpetrate the fraud, including those personally opened by Carlos Tejeda and Juan Tejeda. Credit card transaction data presented to the jury showed that during the duration of the fraud, more than $2.6 million dollars of credit card charges were attempted or conducted on the shell company terminals. In total, nine people have been convicted for their roles in this fraud, including the three above-named defendants and six others who previously pleaded guilty to their involvement and are awaiting sentencing.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Cape Coral Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Simon R. Eth.

Updated May 1, 2023

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft