Metro-East News

Pair plead guilty to fraud; had more than 100 gift cards

Two men pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to stealing 19 account numbers and identity theft more than a year after they were pulled over on Interstate 70 by a Caseyville police officer.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois identified the defendants in a news release as 42-year-old Eriberto Ricardo Gomez and 27-year-old Yasmanis L. Oduardo Fonseco. Both were residing as of Friday in Houston, but were originally from Cuba, according to U.S. Attorney Donald Boyce.

Boyce said a Caseyville police officer had discovered that the two men had in their possession more than 100 gift cards after the officer stopped them in traffic on Oct. 8, 2015, in Madison County. The magnetic strips on 19 of the gift cards had apparently been re-encoded with account numbers registered to customers of a financial institution located in Pennsylvania.

The defendants were both charged with possession of 15 or more stolen account numbers and aggravated identity theft. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Gomez and Fonseco acknowledged during their plea hearings that the gift cards were used to make fraudulent purchases at stores located in Arkansas and Manchester, Mo.

Gomez and Fonseco are both scheduled to be sentenced on March 2.

The investigation was conducted by the Springfield division of the FBI with help from the Caseyville and Pontoon Beach police departments. It’s being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Verseman.