Federal authorities have accused owners of an Orlando, Florida mobile phone business of using stolen credit card numbers, obtained via skimming devices implanted at gas stations, to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of merchandise at area stores.
The two men, owners of Simple Mobile, were arrested November 1 on charges of conspiring to produce, use, or traffic in one or more counterfeit devices, following a lengthy U.S. Secret Service investigation. Three others are also accused of participating in the credit card scheme, according to a criminal complaint filed in Orlando federal court the week of October 31. Agents said the group obtained credit card numbers from skimming devices installed on Central Florida gas station pumps, and then used equipment to manufacture credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards with the stolen numbers. A confidential source told authorities he saw one of the men use a card reader encoder to encode cards with stolen credit card numbers.
The source also told authorities he saw about 1,000 Target gift cards on a single visit to the mans house. Those fraudulent cards were then sold at Simple Mobile, the source told authorities. Throughout their investigation, agents identified hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent credit card purchases made at Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, and other stores. The group was already on the radar of Target asset protection investigators when the Secret Service started its inquiry.
Target investigators documented the fraudulent charges and identified the vehicles the suspects drove during their visits to the stores through surveillance video. American Express identified about $125,565 worth of fraudulent charges at Target related to the case, and Discover identified about $30,220, court documents said. American Express said the credit card numbers were stolen at a Hess gas station in Winter Springs. The Secret Service accuses the group of using more than 175 fraudulent credit cards between January and October. On October 19, a U.S. Customs officer intercepted a package en route to Simple Mobile, which contained an embossing machine, a device often used to manufacture credit cards.