Mastermind of Online Counterfeit Card Retail Shop Sentenced to More Than Six Years in Prison
NEWARK, NJ—The creator and administrator of fakeplastic.net, a one-stop online shop selling counterfeit credit and debit cards, or “payment” cards, and holographic overlays used by criminals to create fake driver’s licenses, was sentenced today to 78 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Sean Roberson, 40, of Palm Bay, Florida, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with authentication features. U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The fakeplastic.net website was a one-stop online shop operated by Roberson and used by criminals across the country to purchase customized counterfeit credit and debit cards used for unauthorized transactions with stolen payment card data, and holographic overlays used to make fake driver’s licenses.
During his guilty plea proceeding, Roberson admitted he began selling counterfeit cards and related items as early as April 2011 and launched the fakeplastic website in June 2012. Roberson owned and operated the website with the assistance of Vinicio Gonzalez and Hugo Rebaza. Roberson admitted that he and his conspirators fulfilled orders for approximately 69,000 counterfeit payment cards, more than 35,000 holographic stickers used to make counterfeit cards appear more legitimate and more than 30,000 state identification card holographic overlays. The orders—more than 3,600 parcels—were shipped through the U.S. mail.
Law enforcement estimates the losses associated with just the counterfeit payment cards trafficked by Roberson and his conspirators at more than $30 million. During his guilty plea, Roberson admitted he personally made more than $1.7 million from the scheme.
The fakeplastic website was used by various groups of criminals across the country often referred to as “carding” or “cash out” crews. These crews bought stolen payment card numbers and related information—referred to as “track data” or “dumps”—which typically appear on the magnetic stripe on the back of legitimate payment cards. Illegal vendors of that information usually get it through hacking or skimming operations involving the installation of specialized equipment at ATM locations or point-of-sale terminals. The stolen data was ultimately put on a counterfeit payment cards, purchased from Roberson, and used to make unauthorized transactions.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares ordered Roberson to serve five years of supervised release and pay restitution of $3,578,996.52. As part of his plea agreement, Roberson forfeited his Bitcoin, a house in Palm Bay, a 2013 Yamaha motorboat and trailer, and a 2008 Hummer.
Gonzalez and Rebaza have both pleaded guilty to related charges in the Western District of North Carolina and were sentenced to 36 and 12 months in prison, respectively.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina have been partners in the prosecution.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Pak of the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Section and Barbara Ward of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and money laundering unit.
Defense counsel: Assistant Federal Public Defender Patrick McMahon Esq., Newark