Man gets 150 months in prison for selling stolen and counterfeit credit cards

A member of the identity theft and credit card fraud ring known as was sentenced to 150 months in federal prison for selling stolen and counterfeit credit cards over the Internet. He was further ordered to pay $50.8 million in restitution.

“Criminal cyber organizations like threaten not just U.S. citizens but people in every corner of the globe,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell. “Managers in Russia seamlessly ran their criminal enterprise online using, among others, a counterfeit card vendor from New Jersey, with whom they communicated through screen name aliases. The success in this case was achieved through equally seamless cooperation with our foreign law enforcement partners and effective use of the RICO statute. As more countries work with us to fight these organizations, we will continue to evolve to meet this growing threat.”

“Mr. Smith’s crimes were very serious and justify a lengthy prison sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden. “He admitted that he caused a loss of seven to $20 million involving over 250 victims, and that he obstructed justice when he fled to Jamaica while released on bond awaiting trial. We are working closely with our international, federal, state and local law enforcement partners to make sure that the perpetrators of these sorts of crimes are prosecuted no matter where in the world they commit their crimes or attempt to flee.”

“As this sentence demonstrates, cyber-criminals who purposely harm innocent Americans and compromise our financial system and global commerce will be aggressively pursued, investigated and prosecuted,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Harris. “These criminals may believe they can escape detection by fleeing the country and hiding behind their computer screens, but as this case shows, cyberspace is not a refuge from justice.”

Jermaine Smith, aka SirCharlie57, aka Fairbusinessman, pleaded guilty in October 2014 to one count of participating in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization.

During his guilty plea, Smith admitted that in May 2009 he became associated with the organization, a criminal enterprise whose members trafficked in compromised credit card account data and counterfeit identifications, and committed money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and various types of computer crime.

Specifically, Smith admitted that he operated as a vendor on the organization’s websites, using the SirCharlie57 and Fairbusinessman nicknames. While acting as a vendor under those online monikers, Smith sold counterfeit credit cards to an undercover special agent. Those counterfeit credit cards were successfully processed for fingerprints, identifying Smith as the true user of the online screennames. In addition to the sale of the counterfeit credit cards, Smith admitted that he possessed over 2,150 stolen credit and debit card account numbers.

While on pretrial release in this case, Smith removed an electronic monitoring device from his person and fled to Jamaica. He was arrested four months later and returned to Nevada.

Fifty-six individuals were charged in four separate indictments in Operation Open Market, which targeted the organization. To date, 26 individuals have been convicted and the rest are either fugitives or are pending trial.

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