Posted at: 09/06/2009 8:56 PM
By: Michelle Knoll
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Nearly a Dozen Charged in Counterfeit Credit Card Scheme
Prosecutors have charged eleven people in an elaborate, counterfeit credit card scheme. Eight of them are in custody. Federal investigators are still looking for the other three defendants.
According to the criminal complaint, between July 2008 and April 2009 the group is accused of purchasing the personal information of Capitol One Bank customers from an online source in the Ukraine, who illegally profited from the sale.
It says the group then used the information to create counterfeit credit card accounts, withdrawing more than $652,205.49 from more than 170 ATMs throughout the Twin Cities.
The FBI says in some instances, the stolen money was converted into cashier checks and used to purchase vehicle parts or vehicles with salvaged titles. Those vehicles were then shipped to Nigeria, where un-named co-conspirators sold them at an inflated price.
Investigators say the defendants recruited Nigerian residents living in Minneapolis to buy pre-determined cars at auto auctions. They were given money to buy the cars and allowed to keep whatever was left over.
They are also accused of getting some of the same people to create bank accounts so they could deposit high-dollar fraudulent checks and then withdraw the cash the following day.
The defendants are each charged with one count of bank fraud and one count of access device fraud.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 30 years in prison on the bank fraud count and 10 years on each access device fraud count.
By Michelle Knoll