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Press Release

13 Cuban Nationals Sentenced to Federal Prison for Conspiracy to Commit Wire and Mail Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that 13 Cuban Nationals have been sentenced in federal court for Conspiracy to Commit Wire and Mail Fraud. United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis, of Columbia, sentenced the following defendants:

  • Jose Livan Rodriguez Espinosa, age 27, of Miami, Florida, to 108 months in federal prison;
  • Ricardo Daniel Ortega Guerra, age 29, of Miami, Florida, to 41 months in federal prison;
  • Julio Santos Vargas, age 26, of Miami, Florida, to 33 months in federal prison;
  • Humberto Merina Chamizo, age 29, of Roswell, New Mexico, to 33 months in federal prison;
  • Julio Villavicencio Alvarez, age 43, of Miami, Florida, to 27 months in federal prison;
  • Angel Dairan Martinez Delgado, age 31, of Miami, Florida, to 33 months in federal prison;
  • Robert Farres Rodriguez, age 30, of Miami, Florida, to 70 months in federal prison;
  • Reyes Garcia Perez, age 53, of Miami, Florida, to 38 months in federal prison;
  • Leduan Reyes, age 28, of Miami, Florida, to 33 months in federal prison;
  • Andres Conzales Acosta, age 40, of Jacksonville, Florida, to 33 months in federal prison; 
  • Humberto Medina Chamizo, age 29, of Roswell, New Mexico, to 33 months in federal prison;
  • Reinaldo Fabelo, age 29, of Houston, Texas, to 33 months in federal prison; and
  • Jose Ramon Morales, age 28, of Ft. Myers, Florida, 12 months in federal prison.

Each defendant was also sentenced to between one and three years of court-ordered supervision to follow his prison term. Together, the defendants were ordered to pay $ 142,758.43 in restitution.

Evidence presented to the court showed that the investigation of this case began in June 2014, when two individuals were stopped by the South Carolina Highway Patrol on I-95 and found to be in possession of counterfeit credit cards. Further investigation by the United States Secret Service revealed that these men were part of a conspiracy that had manufactured, distributed, and negotiated counterfeit credit cards throughout the United States. 

Personal and financial information such as names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and bank account and credit card numbers (“victim track data”) was initially purchased from the dark web.  This information came directly from the Home Depot Breach, which had been unreported at the time (July 2014).  As arrests were made, the group became more sophisticated and began harvesting victim track data through skimming devices placed on gas pumps across the United States.  The group used the victim track data to secure counterfeit credit cards, which they used to purchase gift cards primarily at Sam’s Club and Walmarts.  They also used fake identification to open approximately 40 different Sam’s Club Accounts from early 2014 into late 2015, causing approximately $1 million in fraudulent transactions.

The group had significant bases of operations in Miami, Florida; Houston, Texas; and Omaha, Nebraska. From 2014 until mid-2017, the group utilized approximately 3,275 victim credit card numbers throughout the United States, affecting approximately 222 financial institutions and causing approximately $1.6 million in fraudulent transactions in South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, California, Michigan, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and elsewhere.  Through assistance from state and local authorities, 21 conspirators have been convicted.

This case was investigated by agents of the Columbia office of the United States Secret Service, the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and state and local law enforcement throughout the United States.  Assistant United States Attorney William E. Day, II, of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.      




Lance Crick (864) 282-2105

Updated February 26, 2019