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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 9, 2015

Man Sentenced To 70 Months For Credit Card Fraud, Identity Theft, And Selling Skimming Device

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday today sentenced Lazaro Hernandez-Cabrales (31, Tampa) to five years and ten months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. The Court also ordered him to forfeit $19,010.26, which are the proceeds traceable to his criminal conduct. He pleaded guilty on November 19, 2014.

According to court documents, in early 2014, investigators identified Ricardo Romero-Mesa and Lazaro Hernandez-Cabrales as co-leaders of a credit card fraud ring.  Together, and with others, they used numerous stolen credit and debit card accounts to generate counterfeit credit cards. They used the credit cards to purchase hundreds of reloadable Visa gift cards.  The gift cards were then used to purchase items at home improvement stores, that were later returned in exchange for cash.

Investigators determined that the conspirators initially purchased the stolen account numbers, many from Navy Federal Credit Union and Armed Forces Bank, from an online website based in Eastern Europe. Later, Hernandez-Cabrales stole account numbers by obtaining keys to gas pumps and installing skimmers on the pumps’ payment computers.

During a search of the residence shared by Romero-Mesa and Hernandez-Cabrales on February 17, 2014, investigators seized more than 200 gift cards, credit cards, and hotel room keys, some of which had been re-encoded with other credit and debit card account numbers. Agents also recovered computers, receipts for merchandise returns, high-end purses and clothing, and receipts for the purchase of MoneyGram wire transfers from the United States to the Ukraine. Further investigation revealed that Hernandez-Cabrales had wired more than $23,545 to recipients in Ukraine and Russia to purchase at least 800 stolen account numbers from a website that offers them for sale.

In August 2014, Hernandez-Cabrales was arrested at his residence, shortly after selling credit card skimming equipment and gas pump keys to another individual. A subsequent search of his residence resulted in the seizure of counterfeit credit cards, a gas pump key, and a credit card re-encoder. In total, investigators recovered more than 1,000 stolen credit card numbers issued by more than 15 different financial institutions.

Ricardo Romero-Mesa pleaded guilty to his role in this case on January 14, 2015. His sentencing date has not yet been set.

This case was investigated by the Tampa Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the United States Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated February 10, 2015