LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, William T. Sims, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Miami Field Office, and Brian J. Wimpling, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS), announced that late yesterday, Wednesday, March 8, 2006, defendant, Jorge Luis Bustamante, of Weston, pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard, to conspiring to commit credit card fraud and conspiring to launder money. At sentencing, Bustamante faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of at least $750,000, restitution to victims, and criminal forfeiture.
According to documents filed in court, on April 21, 2005, Secret Service and IRS agents arrested Bustamante for his involvement in a large-scale credit card fraud and money laundering conspiracy. On the same day as his arrest, Bustamante’s home and car were searched and agents found $2,500 in cash, numerous receipts linked to credit card fraud, bags of brand new clothes, a credit card skimming device, a digital encoder, computers, and a new 42″ plasma screen television, all of which were seized as evidence. At that time, Bustamante was campaigning to become President of Peru in 2006.
At yesterday’s court hearing, Bustamante admitted that he collected stolen credit card numbers from various people in South Florida, who were working at retail businesses, such as restaurants and rental car companies. Those stolen numbers were often collected through the use of a portable credit card skimming device (commonly known as a “skimmer”), which would capture the electronic information from the magnetic strips on the back of credit cards, also known as “track information.” Using this system, Bustamante was able to upload the track information into a computer and create counterfeit credit cards. Bustamante admitted that he would purchase laptop computers and other expensive electronic merchandise for resale, and purchase other items such as clothing, a plasma screen television, and gasoline for his own personal use. Once the laptop computers and other expensive electronic merchandise was obtained, the defendant would have them resold for cash.
According to statements made at the plea hearing, some of the cash was then deposited into Bustamante’s wife’s checking account, among others, at Washington Mutual Bank, and from that account, numerous checks were written to pay various personal bills, including the mortgage on Bustamante’s home. His wife did not have a job, and thus had no legitimate income. Nevertheless, tens of thousands of dollars in cash were deposited into the wife’s bank account at various times. With regard to the mortgage, Bustamante admitted that he asked a friend to falsely verify that Bustamante’s wife worked at an import-export business, and that he the used this information on a loan application to obtain a mortgage on their residence.
In addition, during the plea hearing, the prosecutor stated in open court that Bustamante used some of the credit card fraud money from this same bank account to finance various trips to Peru during his candidacy for President of Peru. Bustamante maintains that he did not use any money from the fraud on his presidential campaign.
Among some of the specific criminal acts undertaken by Bustamante, he and another co-conspirator traveled to Town Center at Boca Raton, in November of 2002, to purchase jewelry from Lundstrom Jewelers (a subsidiary of Whitehall Jewelers) with counterfeit credit cards, and in two transactions, more than $10,000 in jewelry including, diamond rings, bracelets, earrings, and a diamond pendant, was purchased. Similarly, Bustamante and a co-conspirator traveled to Colombia, South America, and while there, they purchased emerald jewelry with counterfeit credit cards. Later, on or about March 30, 2005, Bustamante offered to pay a cooperating witness $40 for each credit card number she could obtain using a “skimmer.” This last meeting was one of the final steps in the federal investigation that led to Bustamante’s arrest.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the United States Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Division, who jointly led this investigation. Mr. Acosta also commended the assistance provided to federal authorities by a number of private companies and financial institutions. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Charles Duross and James Koukios.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on .