Father, Son Arrested In $50K Gift Card Fraud Raid

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A tip to Crime Stoppers led Miami-Dade police to a home where they found thousands of counterfeit credit and gift cards.

Police raided the home at 3621 SW 149th place overnight. In addition to the phony cards, they also found skimmers, scanning machines, encoding equipment, a money counter and about 13 grams of crystal meth.

Two men – father and son – who lived in the home, Luis Perez-Luis and his son Jose Perez, were led away in handcuffs in the early morning hours. They were charged with more than 400 counts each of various credit card fraud offenses, but police indicated in court documents that the number of charges could reach into the thousands after they’ve had an opportunity to count all the seized credit and gift cards.

Police say the stolen gift cards that they seized were worth a minimum, of $50,000. The thousands of phony credit cards they said they found contained information gathered by skimmers installed on ATMs, gas station pumps and store counters.

The lead detective said this skimming and counterfeit operation was different than others he’s investigated because it utilized gift cards.

“This is one of the larger busts that we’ve come across lately, especially because of the gift card aspect of it. We haven’t seen much of that. You can say that this is one of the first times we’ve run into these individuals who are stealing the gift cards off the racks,” said Detective Marcos Rodriguez.

The stolen gift cards, for stores like Macy’s and Kohls, would be skimmed for their codes. They would then be returned to the stores where they were stolen from. A log of the skimmed codes was kept and a check online would tell if they had been purchased and activated.

“Once they found that these gift cards were loaded with money, they would then redeem the cards by encoding other gift cards with these credit card numbers and either sell them in the street or use themselves for personal purchases,” said Rodriguez.

As for the father and son, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer Thursday afternoon ordered them held on more than half a million dollars bail each.  In order to post bond, they will have to prove the money is “clean,” not proceeds from illegal operations.  If they make bond, they will be kept under house arrest.

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