TAMPA — A U.S. district judge sentenced two Tampa residents to federal prison for fraud and identity theft in connection with an elaborate credit card scheme that targeted an Indiana credit union and other institutions.
Altogether, conspirators in the case defrauded more than a dozen financial institutions and retailers, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill. Plus, law enforcement officials, in total, identified more than 50 victims of identity theft in the scheme. The Tampa Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Indiana police all tracked the suspects' activities.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington sentenced Juan Miranda Amores, 44, to seven years and three months, and Yudelkis Portes, 31, to five years. They were each ordered to pay $59,897.84, the proceeds of the credit card fraud, according to the release.
Miranda Amores pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft Oct. 5. Portes pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft Oct. 22. Another co-defendant, Ireanaldo Larrondo-Berrera, pleaded guilty Nov. 12. A sentencing hearing for Larrondo-Berrera is scheduled for May 9.
According to court documents, from at least mid-2010, through at least July 2011, Miranda Amores and Portes engaged in a conspiracy and scheme to commit credit card or access device fraud and bank fraud using stolen identities. In December 2010 a detective from the Kokomo, Ind. police department contacted Tampa police about a case of counterfeit credit cards.
The Indiana detective said more than 16 accounts at the Solidarity Community Federal Credit Union had been compromised, and many fraudulent charges to the accounts came from Tampa, specifically from Walgreens stores. Miranda Amores, Larrondo-Berrera, and Portes, prosecutors contented, were identified on surveillance video using stolen or counterfeit credit and debit cards.
A spreadsheet of fraudulent transactions that Solidarity identified as occurring in the Tampa area showed that Miranda Amores, Portes and their co-conspirators used stolen and counterfeit credit cards to make many small purchases, often at the same time, to avoid detection. The trio traveled to multiple stores in the same area, making consecutive purchases, police say.