By LeaAnne Klentzman
In April, sheriff’s detectives received a tip that led them to what authorities called a Cuban group, of mostly family, in the Mission Glen neighborhood. Sheriff’s spokesperson, Bob Haenel, said the group obtained credit card numbers through dump sites to commit fraud. He described those sites as “most likely from out of the country – on the Internet.” He went on to explain that, “Once the numbers were secured, new credit cards were produced.”
“With new cards in hand, “buyers” would go to stores such as Wal-Mart and Target and purchase large amounts of gift cards ranging in value from $50 to $200. The cards then would be sold on the street at discounted prices,” said Haenel. The scam all came to an end on June 9 when authorities obtained search and arrest warrants for the home in the 15400 block of Prairie Oaks, in Mission Glen. Once inside the residence, authorities discovered four separate rooms set up with embossing machines, re-encoding devices used to encode fraudulent information onto the new credit cards, and computers as well as about $8,000 in cash,” said Haenel. Also seized were flash drives, discs containing thousands of stolen credit card numbers and more than 900 re-encoded cards.
As part of the investigation, detectives also determined that this group was also involved in stealing diesel fuel with fraudulent cards. Haenel said, “The purchases were made under $100 so the cards would not be flagged. The diesel then was sold at construction sites and trucking companies at a reduced price.” Also seized along with credit card and computer equipment were two pickups that had been modified with fuel bladders located in the bed of the trucks which were not readily visible unless standing beside the bed. Those same trucks were also equipped with pumps, regulators and meters, said Haenel. He estimated the loss on both operations to be around $500,000. Although with further investigation, it may bump the total up to over the $1 million mark.
Haenel identified the arrested as Anet Valero-Morejon, 37, Blanca Valero-Morejon, 38, Maikel Valdes-Amaro, 30, Anna Lizeth Torres, 25, and Livan Tagle Moya, 39. All are facing charges of engaging in organized criminal activity which includes fraudulent possession/use of identifying information.
This case is a result of a cooperative effort on the part of Stafford police department, Discover Card Services and Murphy USA and sheriff’s deputies.