Last night, the Justice Dept. announced that it has charged three Florida men for running a website — fakeplastic.net — that the DOJ describes as a “one-stop online shop selling counterfeit credit cards and holographic overlays,” that could be used by other baddies to either fake their identities or use stolen credit and debit card numbers in retail stores.
Feds say that cards tied to this operation are responsible for at least $34.5 million in fraud.
The 39-year-old alleged ringleader from Palm Bay has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods or services, and conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with authentication features.
His two alleged conspirators — a 31-year-old also from Palm Bay, and a 30-year-old from Melbourne — have been charged with conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud.
The site was actually seized by the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service back on Dec. 5, but rather than make a public spectacle of the seizure, authorities continued to allow customers to make purchases.
The DOJ says that, following the site’s seizure, authorities made more than 30 “controlled deliveries” to customers. This means that customers were sent their orders, but those illegal materials never left the control of law enforcement.
These deliveries resulted in 11 additional arrests of alleged fakeplastic customers.
The U.S. Attorney in the case described fakeplastic.net as a “made-to-measure service [that] provided the last link in the chain necessary for criminals to make money from stolen credit card numbers and identities.”
It’s believed that the site’s operator began selling counterfeit cards and related items as early as April 2011. Fakeplastic.net was launched in June 2012. Between the pre-fakeplastic sales and the sales made through the website, the DOJ claims that the three suspects sold materials for around 69,000 fake credit cards, plus another 35,000 holographic stickers used to make counterfeit cards appear more legitimate, and more than 30,000 state identification card holographic overlays.
The alleged ringleader is believed to have personally made around $1.7 million from these sales.
The fraud conspiracy charges each carry penalties of up to 30 years in prison and fines of $1 million. The charges for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods or services could mean up to 10 years in prison and fines of $2 million. The charge of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with authentication features comes with a maximum of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.