BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury today indicted two Tampa men for conspiracy to commit identity theft crimes announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Michael Williams.
This case involved use of counterfeit access devices – debit or credit cards – trailing from South Carolina to Alabama to purchase goods or pre-paid gift cards.
A three-count federal indictment charges OSMANI RAMIREZ CHAVEZ and YANKO TORRES VADELLA ALBA of Tampa, Florida, with conspiring in October 2018 in Jefferson County and elsewhere to traffic in counterfeit access devices by using them to obtain money, goods and services. The indictment also charges them with separate counts of using a counterfeit device and possession of more than fifteen counterfeit access devices on October 9, 2018 in Jefferson County.
As part of the conspiracy, Chavez and Alba went on an extended weekend spree that spans from South Carolina to Alabama buying goods and pre-paid gift cards with counterfeit credit and debit cards. They hit Walmart stores in North Augusta, South Carolina, Augusta, and Thomson, Georgia, and Oxford, Pell City, Leeds, Hoover, Homewood and Birmingham, Alabama. The defendants were arrested in Birmingham, Alabama and were found in possession of the largest number of counterfeit credit and debit cards seized by the Task Force in the Northern District of Alabama.
“The defendants in this case are facing federal charges due to the collaborative work of the Secret Service Financial Crimes Task Force with Regions Bank and Walmart Global Investigations to identify the culprits and gather the evidence of widespread fraud,” Town said. “Defendants should know that if you travel to the Northern District of Alabama with the intention of committing identity theft crimes, you will be prosecuted in federal court.”
“The prosecution of suspects committing financial crimes is an investigative priority of the U. S. Secret Service, Birmingham Field Office. Our financial crimes task force aggressively investigates financial crimes and seeks to bring offenders to justice,” Williams said. “This case is a perfect example of our mandate. We have to protect our local economy from fraudsters who travel from neighboring states to commit crimes in the Northern District of Alabama.”
The maximum penalty for the conspiracy charge is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty both for making purchases with the counterfeit access devises and for possessing device-making equipment is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Secret Service Financial Crimes Task Force investigated the cases in conjunction with Regions Bank and Walmart Global Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Beardsley Mark is prosecuting the cases.