Two Cuban Nationals Sentenced to Prison for Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Scheme with 54 Victims
Identity Theft Spree Leads to More Than Three Years in Prison for Each
Two Cuban nationals who traveled across sixteen Iowa counties in 2017 and used at least fifty-four stolen identities and card numbers to make fraudulent purchases were sentenced to federal prison this week.
Pedro Alvarez Rodriguez, age 36, and Dunieski Santana Moreno, age 27, residents of Florida, were both sentenced to more than three years in federal prison after guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to plea agreements and other information presented in court, Alvarez Rodriguez and Santana Moreno drove across the state of Iowa with a third person, Liliany de Armas Mena, using counterfeit credit cards containing at least fifty-four “skimmed” account numbers of victims. They used these fake cards to purchase gift cards and gift card reloads at Wal-Mart stores. The scheme was designed to evade detection by keeping individual transactions under $100, moving across county borders to stay ahead of authorities, and using account numbers “skimmed” within the state of Iowa. Alvarez Rodriguez and Santana Moreno visited Wal-Mart stores in West Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa, Grimes, Altoona, Ames, Boone, Denison, Sioux City, Le Mars, Sioux Center, Spencer, Spirit Lake, Mason City, Cedar Falls, and Waverly over the span of only four days in January and February 2017. Alvarez Rodriguez had previously been convicted in 2015 of attempted robbery in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, after another incident at a Wal-Mart involving counterfeit cards and stolen account numbers. Santana Moreno had previously been convicted in 2015 of financial transaction card theft in Sumter County, South Carolina.
Alvarez Rodriguez and Santana Moreno were sentenced in Cedar Rapids by Chief United States District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand. Alvarez Rodriguez was sentenced to 42 months’ imprisonment and Santana Moreno was sentenced to 40 months’ imprisonment. Both were ordered to make $5,655.08 in joint and several restitution to victims. Each must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term. Liliany de Armas Mena, who has pleaded guilty to the same offenses, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 30, 2018. There is no parole in the federal system.
In sentencing Alvarez Rodriguez and Santana Moreno, Chief Judge Strand commented that the defendants were parasites motivated by greed, who made their livings off theft and stealing others’ hard-earned money.
Both men are being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until they can be transported to a federal prison.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lyndie M. Freeman and investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Waverly Police Department.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 17-CR-2044.
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