(Trinidad Express) A multi-million-dollar bank card fraud racket in which fraudsters had been stealing millions from unsuspecting victims for more than a year was busted on Monday morning after police swooped down on a home at Millennium Park in Trincity.
A detailed police report obtained by the Express about the operation stated that instruments to create fraudulent driver’s permits, passports and ID cards were recovered.
During the operation, police arrested a 32-year-old woman with her boyfriend and two other men from La Horquetta and Trincity.
The woman, who carries the initials “SB” and her boyfriend “PM”, who also has several aliases, were the main masterminds behind this operation, according to senior sources in the Fraud Squad.
Police say they had been tracking the woman long before this operation started and later discovered that her boyfriend “PM” resided in the US before moving back to Trinidad something ago with fake US identities.
During the operation, however, “SB” told acting Sgt Smith, “I know this is my house so I responsible for what in here but is my boyfriend P…. (name called) who bring all them thing in here. I only responsible for the clothes on this table.”
“PM” later admitted to Smith, “These items are mine. S….. (name called) has nothing to do with this. Somebody wanted a driver’s permit to use so I was making it for them. I will handle my responsibilities. I will give one statement on everything when you all are finished.”
The Express understands that the woman and her co-conspirators were under surveillance for over a year after a file was passed on by the Financial Intelligence Unit to the Criminal Gang Intelligence Unit (CIU) when questionable and erratic bank transactions were uncovered islandwide.
The operation was spearheaded by Acting Senior Supt Edwards from the Criminal Intelligence Gang and included Sgt Sutherland along with Acting Sgt Smith with the help of the Inter-Agency Task Force(IATF).
Among the items police recovered were a credit card skimmer used to capture the information from customers’ authentic credit cards which is later duplicated onto a dummy card, which is then used by fraudsters.
The information is usually captured from the magnetic strip of a real bank card once it is swiped onto the skimmer.
Senior sources told the Express that the operation was “well organised” and they could practically duplicate any kind of identification or bank card based on other items found in the Trincity home.
Police recovered a heat sealer which ensures, for example, that a driver’s permit is sealed properly after forging the necessary information.
What police also uncovered was the identification cards or bank cards of several potential victims ranging from American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) cards in the name of Eric Rampersad to a State of Georgia ID card with the name Sharon Lara of #11 Pizargar Drive, Gulf View.
Scanned VISA and reloadable credit cards were found in the names of victims Lance Edwards, Shelly Ramkissoon and La Toya Superville. A Trinidad and Tobago passport in Superville’s name was also found.
Apart from huge sums of monies found in the house, investigators also recovered quantities of cash in the vehicles of the suspects ranging from $8,100 found in a shoe in the rear of a SUV while $2,100 was found in a PBT Almera.
In that same Almera police also found $4,000 hidden under the floor of a mat in the front passenger seat.
Several BlackBerry and Alcatel cellular phones, other fake cards and magnetic strips were found in the vehicles as well.
Police also seized a number of items inside the house which included an HP Pavilion Entertainment laptop, Celestron Telescope with a high powered camera—which they believe the fraudsters used to spy on victims from afar and gather their PIN numbers.
They also seized a Sony VAIO laptop, an HP Photo Smart Touch Smart Printer and Scanner, one Sony Xperia cellphone, HP Touch Smart desktop computer, AARP Debit Mastercard, one Canon Pixma Photo Printer, three Apple iPads (two 32G,16G), one black Acer Aspire computer, one Kedax easy shape C533 camera, one iPhone, one heat sealer H 400, two Samsung S3, a BlackBerry Bold 9900, one Republic Bank reloadable Visa Electro card in the name of Justin Cooper and a similar card in the name of Brandon Green.
A DVD player, a Nintendo DS, another BlackBerry Curve and a Motorola micro SD card were seized from the bedroom on the right side of the house.
Senior sources inside the Fraud Squad to whom the suspects have been handed over believe they have made a major breakthrough in what they term a huge islandwide racket.
Police say they have gathered further vital information which can assist them in cracking another massive racket.