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Credit Card Fraud Scheme Busted In Wake County

The discovery of a UPS package containing marijuana led federal investigators to a Raleigh home on Resevoir Road that had all the materials necessary for making fake credit cards. Nelson Alvarez-Vasquez and three others were charged with fraud for producing the fake credit cards.

Police found an embossing machine, blank Visa cards and actual fraudulent credit cards at the Raleigh home. There were also DVDs from RedBox that police believe are evidence of the fraud scheme. Fradulent credit cards are often tested at low dollar locations - such as renting a RedBox movie - to determine whether they work before larger purchases are attempted.

Alvarez-Vasquez was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the fraudulent credit card scheme. Stephany Abello and Michelle Benavidez were charged as accomplices to the fraud and were sentenced to 27 months and 30 months in prison, respectively. The fourth member of the scheme, Julio Vidal, has not yet been sentenced.

Typically, fake credit cards are created using real account information stolen from another person. This information may be harvested via the internet, skimmed from an ATM or credit card machine or may be an actual lost or stolen card with an altered magnetic strip.

Credit card fraud often goes hand-in-hand with identity theft charges. There are mandatory minimum sentences for certain types of fraud and the type of fraud charged depends on the facts and circumstances that gave rise to the fraudulent activity. When more than one charge is involved, as in the case of credit card fraud and identity theft, punishments can be even more severe as each charge may carry a separate penalty.

Source: Triangle Business Journal, "Seven years in Wake credit card fraud," Chris Bagley, July 17, 2012

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