The U.S. Secret Service arrested four Brazilian-born men for allegedly producing sophisticated ATM skimming equipment and having more than 400 counterfeit credit cards, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.
Two of the men admitted to being part of a counterfeit operation ranging from Florida to New York, Illinois and Ohio in which fraudulent credit cards were used to buy electronics such as iPhones, laptops, virtual reality glasses, electronic cigarettes and clothing, according to an affidavit written by Secret Service special agent Jennifer Tron.
The electronics were then shipped to Florida to a specific address, Tron wrote. Secret Service officials also said three laptop computers, pinhole cameras and a magnetic stripe credit card encoder are indicative of “ATM skimming.”
The four men appeared Monday in front of U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Sharon Ovington, who scheduled detention hearings for Thursday and preliminary hearings for Feb. 12.
The men — Ricardo C. De Andrade, 38, Sandro L. Trancoso Da Silva, 40, Diego M. Dacosta, 31, and Leonardo W. Targino, 19 — were arrested Thursday by Butler Twp. police and booked into the Montgomery County Jail, according to jail records.
The defendants said little — all used a Portuguese interpreter except Dacosta who said he is a citizen who speaks English — during their arraignments on two counts apiece.
Assistant U.S. attorney Dwight Keller said all four face maximums of 12½ years in prison and $500,000 fines for conspiracy and possession of device-making equipment.
“The Secret Service aggressively pursues those suspects who would victimize financial institutions, businesses and citizens by using counterfeit credit cards or stealing account information at ATM’s from unsuspecting victims,” said Kevin Dye, Resident Agent in Charge in the Secret Service’s Dayton office. “This investigation highlights the significant coordination between law enforcement officers in the Dayton area in the arrests of suspects committing these types of crimes.”
Dye credited the Montgomery County Bulk Smuggling Task Force and Butler Twp. police in the ongoing investigation.