Broward Sheriff's Office deputies busted thee people whom they're calling a counterfeit crew who used phony credit cards at ATMs in Weston. The three suspects were caught withdrawing bundles of cash using the fake cards, albeit not in a very conspicuous fashion.
All told, the trio was allegedly caught with 140 counterfeit bank cards and what the BSO is calling "tens of thousands of dollars" in cash.
The suspects, identified as Luis G. Freitas Gonzalez, Keyla Granado Montano, and Jose Sanabria Ruiz, were caught in the act by a BSO sergeant who noticed their suspicious activity.
According to a BSO report, the sergeant patrolling the Weston Lakes Shopping Plaza at 294 Indian Trace in Weston spotted a rental car parked in a deserted part of the plaza's parking lot away from other cars last Wednesday afternoon. Three people were sitting in the rental.
A woman got out of the car and walked over to the Publix ATM to withdraw some cash. The woman seemed to be shielding her face as she transacted her business, according to the report. After getting a wad of cash, she turned and walked back to the car as it sat in the distance. Immediately after getting back into the rental, a man exited the car and walked to the same Publix ATM. He withdrew cash while trying to hide his face.
The trio then left that parking lot and drove to the Weston Commons Plaza, where they repeated the same routine of withdrawing cash from a Publix ATM there. All while the sergeant observed.
According to the BSO report, Sanabria Ruiz was behind the wheel, driving Freitas Gonzalez and Granado Montano around to different ATMs throughout the city in a two-day cash withdrawal spree.
A third man, as of yet identified, would take the cash and the cards and pay the trio 20 percent of the money they'd get each day.
After apprehending the three, police found wads of cash wrapped with counterfeit credit cards and ATM PIN numbers printed on the reverse side of each card. Police also found sheets with names and dollar amounts on them. BSO says detectives recovered over $20,000 in U.S. currency.
Sanabria Ruiz is facing charges of larceny-grand theft less than $5,000, possession of counterfeited credit cards, and theft of personal identification. Freitas Gonzalez and Granado Montano are both facing charges of grand theft less than $10,000, possession of counterfeited credit cards, unlawful possession of personal identification, and illegal use credit cards.
With a string of security breeches at places like the Home Depot and other businesses on the rise lately, as well as using phony credit cards as a sort of new way of robbing cash, banks are going to start installing microchips into new debit cards.
Last month, Bank of America announced that it would issuing new debit cards with those chips installed to protect customers from fraud and to combat crimes like this one from happening.