Tampa Woman Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison As Leader Of Credit Card Fraud Ring
Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. today sentenced Viviana Reyes (40, Tampa) to 12 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, credit card fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and identity theft. The Court also ordered Reyes to pay $599,744.11 in restitution to the victims of her crimes and entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $725,267.44, which represents the proceeds of the crimes.
A federal jury found Reyes guilty of all counts on December 12, 2013, after a four-day trial. Four of her co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty. Three have been sentenced and one remains a fugitive.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Michel Lermos-Hernandez, Danay Crespo-Rodriguez, Norma Cabezas-Hernandez, and Viviana Reyes ran a credit card fraud ring. Lermos and Reyes were the leaders. Lermos, aided by others, obtained credit card numbers by placing key loggers on credit card terminals at the International Mall in Tampa, one in particular at the Haagen-Dazs ice cream store, that intercepted and stored swiped credit and debit card account information. Lermos and others then created counterfeit credit cards using the stolen credit and debit card account numbers. Lermos obtained blank credit card stock, embossing machines and magnetic stripe re-encoders from Reyes. He 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-Rodriguez, and at least two other separately-charged individuals (Lazaro Rodriguez and Abel Osorio-Cuok). Using the counterfeit cards, they bought electronics and gift cards at Tampa area retailers. The conspirators then took these items to Reyes= house, where she paid them in cash for the fraudulently obtained merchandise. Reyes directed the co-conspirators on what to buy – such as Target gift cards, Wal-Mart gift cards, and Apple electronics, based upon what she could most easily sell on the street. When Reyes purchased the items from her conspirators, she paid them approximately 50% of the retail value of the items before reselling them for approximately 60% of the retail value. Reyes advertised the items via text message and email.
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 indicative of those that Reyes sold to others in order to open 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. Agents estimate that the loss, to date, to the affected financial institutions exceeds $700,000 and that the conspirators stole thousands of account numbers from affected credit and debit card account holders.
On March 13, 2014, Norma Cabezas-Hernandez was sentenced to five years in federal prison. Danay Crespo-Rodriguez’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 2014. Michel Lermos-Hernandez remains a fugitive. Lazaro Rodriguez was sentenced in January 2014 to three years and one month in federal prison. On February 21, 2014, Abel Osorio-Cuok was sentenced to five years’ probation for his role in this case.
This case was investigated by the Tampa Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the United States Secret Service, all of whom are members of the USSS’s credit card fraud and identity theft task force. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mandy Riedel and Suzanne Nebesky.