GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Four Florida residents have been arrested and are being charged in federal court as part of a fraud ring that the feds say may be responsible for over $300,000 in losses to retailers in six states, including Michigan.
The four were arrested in Kent County in June after a report of a disturbance in a room at the Motel 6 in Cascade Township. When police arrived, they made contact with the subjects of that complaint, Lixandra Matos and Daniel Perez. Police discovered Perez had an outstanding warrant out of Texas.
They also discovered packaging from several stored-value cards valued at $200 a piece in the trash can in the room. Matos explained to the police that the cards were purchased as gifts for an upcoming baby shower.
The officers asked for permission to further search the room and discovered a credit card reader/writer and a laptop computer — tools commonly used to clone credit cards and in identity theft schemes. They were in one of the bags owned by Matos.
In the initial search of Criado and Orta’s room, deputies discovered several electronic items newly purchased and still in their original and unopened packaging.
Motel employees informed police that another pair of individuals were traveling with Matos and Lixandra. The employees gave police a “wad” of stored-value cards packaging and broken cards they found in a trash can outside of the room of Matos’ and Perez’ travel companions — identified in the criminal complaint as Alexander Criado and Yume Orta, also from Florida.
In addition to the SVCs and packaging found in the trash, police discovered “several” SVCs in the wallets of Orta and Criado, according to the complaint, along with a “large quantity of U.S. currency.”
Retail outlets, including Sam’s Club and Walmart, in Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada and Michigan suffered $300,000 in losses in the fraud scheme, according to federal investigators.
Detectives obtained records from Walmart Global Investigations that showed cards in the possession of the schemers were used in Sam’s Club outlets in Holland, Lansing, Alpine Township and Cascade Township to make $40,167 worth of purchases, according to the federal complaint.
The criminal complaint was filed in federal court in Grand Rapids Friday. All four individuals are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.