Credit Card Cybercriminal Sentenced To 12.5 Years

A New Jersey man has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison and a $50 million fine for his part in a global payment-card fraud ring based in Russia, the U.S. Justice Department said last week.

Jermaine Smith, who used the online aliases “SirCharlie57” and “Fairbusinessman” when he was selling counterfeit cards for the cybertheft ring, is the 26th member of the group to be convicted. Several others have been indicted and are either fugitives or awaiting trial. Smith was a fugitive himself while on pre-trial release; he broke an electronic monitoring device and fled to Jamaica, where he was recaptured four months later. He was sentenced Thursday (April 9) in Las Vegas, after pleading guilty to participating in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO) in October 2014.

Smith admitted that he defrauded more than 250 victims of between $7 million and $20 million, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said in a prepared statement, adding, “We are working closely with our international, federal, state and local law enforcement partners to make sure that the perpetrators of these sorts of crimes are prosecuted no matter where in the world they commit their crimes or attempt to flee.”

According to Smith’s guilty plea, he became associated in May 2009 with the group, which trafficked in stolen payment card data and counterfeit IDs, as well as drug trafficking and money laundering. Smith’s job was selling counterfeit credit cards on the websites.

After selling some to an undercover special agent, fingerprints taken from the cards were used to identify Smith, who later admitted to possessing more than 2,150 stolen credit and debit card account numbers.

The Justice Department has been using the RICO statute successfully to go after members of the group since 2013, when it got its first RICO conviction, according to Wired. Under RICO, anyone doing business with could be slapped with a long sentence for crimes committed by all 7,900 users of the website.

In March the Justice Department also began pushing for relaxing rules that limit its ability to go after cybercriminals who steal payment card data but aren’t U.S. residents and haven’t actually funneled their profits through the U.S.


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