SOUTHEASTERN NC (WWAY) — A Venezuelan man who helped run a credit card skimming ring out of Wilmington will spend four years in prison, according to US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Ricardo Abdel, of Doral, Florida and a permanent resident alien from Venzuela, 3 years of supervised release after pleading last March to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
He will also be required pay nearly $20,000 in restitution.
In March 2018, the Wilmington Police Department was alerted by investigators with the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) fraud division of ongoing fake withdrawals at various ATMs in the Wilmington area.
On March 5, 2018, the United States Secret Service was notified by the SECU and the WPD that three people were attempting to illegally withdraw money from an ATM located on Wrightsville Avenue. Officers responded to that location and made a traffic stop of a vehicle in which Abdel and two others were riding.
A search revealed more $9,300 in cash, numerous debit/credit cards, computers, digital storage media, and two debit/credit card readers/encoders.
Investigators determined that the fraudulent debit/credit cards were used at multiple ATM locations in the Wilmington area over a period of several days.
A forensic search of the seized laptop computers and cell phones revealed 566 individual card numbers which were issued by 71 different financial institutions.
Investigators determined the men has placed an illegal debit/credit card skimming device in an ATM in Leland.
The intended loss was calculated at $283,000.
On July 3, 2018, investigators received credible information identifying co-conspirators based in Venezuela and in the Miami area who were involved in the scheme.
The investigation revealed that the group was traveling to various states, including Georgia, California, and Florida, to install debit/credit card skimming devices.
It is estimated that the group made $250,000 monthly as a result of the scheme.
The United States Secret Service, the Wilmington Police Department and the Kure Beach Police Department conducted the investigation.