TRENTON – An Elizabeth man and his girlfriend have been indicted for their roles in a scheme to steal other people’s identities and engage in credit card fraud, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, Andres A. Correa (also known as Frank Perec), 29, of Elizabeth, was charged late Friday, April 9, with second-degree trafficking in personal identifying information of another, second-degree identity theft, second-degree conspiracy, and second-degree tampering with witnesses and informants. Correa was also charged with third-degree attempted theft by deception, third-degree credit card fraud, and five counts of third-degree theft by deception.
Correa’s girlfriend, Lory Y. Caicedo, 22, of Elizabeth, was charged with second-degree conspiracy.
The Union County grand jury indictment alleges that between July 1 and Oct. 1, 2008, Correa and Caicedo provided electronic skimming devices to an employee of a Delta gas station located in Roselle Park. The skimming devices were used to obtain and store electronically encoded information that had been captured from the magnetic strip of payment cards belonging to customers of the Delta gas station, without the knowledge of the customers. Correa allegedly paid the gas station employee for each payment card account number that had been collected and stored within the skimmer device.
The indictment further alleges that Correa knowingly distributed or possessed eleven fraudulent credit cards. Each of the cards was allegedly “re-encoded,” which means that they were digitally altered so that the account information embedded in the magnetic strip on the back did not match the account embossed on the face of the cards. As a result, the altered credit card could be used by the person whose name was on the front of the card, while the charges were billed to an unsuspecting victim.
An investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that the victims in the alleged scheme were customers of the Delta gas station whose personal identifying information had been captured in the skimming devices.
It is also alleged that Correa knowingly impersonated another individual, using that person’s identity and the re-encoded credit cards to defraud several businesses in northern New Jersey, including Home Depot, Toys R’ Us and Linden Liquors, of a total of more than $15,000.
Finally, the indictment alleges that on November 27, 2008, Correa threatened a potential witness in the investigation in order to cause the potential witness to withhold information or testimony regarding the investigation.
Two other persons previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced in the ongoing investigation. Luis F. Marte, 36, whose last known address was in Union Township, pleaded guilty in April 2009 to trafficking in personal identifying information of another and identity theft. He was sentenced to 333 days in county jail as a condition of a five-year term of probation.
Marte’s nephew, Carlos DeJesus, 21, whose last known address was in Elizabeth, pleaded guilty in April 2009 to trafficking in personal identifying information of another. DeJesus was sentenced to 364 days in county jail as a condition of a five-year term of probation.
Detective Jarek Pyrzanowski, Analyst Christina Runkle, and Deputy Attorney General John J. Higgins were assigned to the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Higgins presented the cases to the Union County grand jury. Acting Fraud Prosecutor Dagli thanked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, the Roselle Park Police Department and the Linden Police Department for their assistance.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of $15,000.
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