From January 2010 to April 2012, the gift cards were used by 12 small businesses to buy items from Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and other stores. The businesses fronted themselves as “discount dollar/convenience” stores with names like Wendy’s Dollar and Duarte the Real Discount Inc. Goods purchased with the fake gift cards were then sold at the discount stores across Miami-Dade.
It was a complex counterfeit scam involving runners, identity theft and cigarettes.
The 14 people who took part in it scammed more than $13 million from one of the world’s largest retailers: Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials said.
The scam: gift cards bought with fake credit cards.
Police busted the ring, which used stolen identities to apply for 23,527 credit cards, which they then used to purchase 56,873 gift cards.
They used those cards at the stores to buy cigarettes and other goods to resell.
Overall, they cost the companies $13,029,011.59, according to an arrest warrant.
Twelve of the fourteen people charged appeared in bond court on Wednesday. Arrest warrants were issued for Daniel Cabello, Midiala Arango La Rosa, Alejandro Duarte, Pedro L. Duarte, Miguel A. Peraza, Jimmy Ariel Suros Corzo, Boris L. Estrada, Luis Arango La Rosa, Juan Carlos Fernandez Rodriguez, Joel Mayo Hernandez, Eduardo Cardero, Diana R. Cardero, Eleorgino Aleman Aquila and Luis Y. Cabello Perez, all of Miami-Dade. The charges range from racketeering to grand theft to organized fraud.
U.S. Secret Service agents and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the ring for about a year.