Within the early night on April 17, 2017, a Chase Financial institution safety officer in Seattle watched by way of an ATM’s digital camera as a person approached and eliminated a card-skimming gadget.
Moments later, cops pounced, arresting the person, Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha, then an Orlando, Florida, resident. The case would result in a responsible plea and Trelha’s deportation again to his native Brazil. It additionally led an investigator — for causes nonetheless not completely clear — to George Santos, the longer term New York congressman.
With every passing day, new revelations have emerged concerning the murky previous of the freshman Republican, who was elected in November 2022 from a New York district that encompasses elements of Queens and Lengthy Island. Regardless of obtrusive misstatements on his resume, Santos has vowed to hold onto his seat whilst contemporary discoveries about his previous emerge. His election was the topic of a current CBS Experiences documentary, “Marketing campaign of Deceit.”
Experiences have indicated regulation enforcement businesses have been wanting into the financing of his marketing campaign, his stewardship of a pet charity and his work for a corporation that was later ensnared in a Ponzi scheme probe. Santos has denied all allegations of wrongdoing in these circumstances.
CBS Information has now realized of one more curious wrinkle — the surfacing of Santos’ identify throughout a 2017 credit-card skimming and identity-theft probe in Washington state.
The defendant within the case, Trelha, cooperated that night with detectives, permitting them to look his rental automotive. Inside they discovered an empty FedEx bundle with a sender deal with in Winter Park, Florida, based on the police report. The deal with was considered one of George Santos’ former residences.
Six months earlier, in October 2016, a ticket for failing to cease at a crimson mild in Florida was issued to Santos, itemizing the identical Winter Park deal with. It is unclear if the deal with led investigators to Santos, or if he was ever a suspect within the bank card investigation, however a regulation enforcement supply confirmed he was interviewed as a part of the probe.
One acquaintance of Santos instructed CBS Information he claimed in 2020 to have served as a confidential informant within the case, however she now questions whether or not that was true.
Trelha would later declare he was paid $100 per day by a bunch based mostly in Brazil and Florida to put and take away card skimmers, based on courtroom paperwork. In his resort room in SeaTac, Washington, detectives discovered one other skimming gadget, three modified ATM cameras, identification bearing a pseudonym — Matos Fontinele — and 10 fraudulent playing cards linked to stolen numbers.
Prosecutors stated they’d proof Trelha compromised practically 300 accounts with the cardboard skimmer in simply three days in Seattle. They stated every night time Trelha uploaded skimmed account data to a “cloud” service, the place the Brazilian group may entry the data. Calling the operation “subtle,” a prosecutor stated they believed it was simply “the tip of the iceberg,” based on a courtroom transcript. Trelha was sentenced to time served, having already spent greater than seven months in jail, and was then turned over to immigration authorities.
“We do not actually know, frankly, the total extent and the total hurt that was brought on by this offense,” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Benjamin Diggs stated at Trelha’s sentencing, after he entered a responsible plea to 1 depend of felony entry gadget fraud.
A sentencing memorandum submitted by Trelha’s legal professional features a letter by an individual named “Leide Santos,” claiming to be Trelha’s girlfriend. She described Trelha as a former flight attendant concerned in a development enterprise in Florida and stated he was “devoted to his son” in Brazil.
“Leide Santos” described beginning a enterprise with Trelha in Florida, however CBS Information was unable to find data itemizing both identify in Florida’s Division of Firms database. CBS Information was unable to find or contact anybody named “Leide Santos” who match her description. There isn’t a indication “Leide Santos” and George Santos are associated.
A consultant for Santos and his lawyer didn’t reply to questions despatched by CBS Information. Santos has beforehand acknowledged speaking with Seattle police concerning the investigation, based on childhood pal Tiffany Bogosian.
She realized of the episode whereas offering Santos with recommendation, as a pal, on a unique authorized matter, a Pennsylvania warrant associated to bounced checks. Politico reported that the Pennsylvania case led to a theft cost, however Santos claimed his checkbook had been stolen, and the cost was later expunged.
“He believed that the warrant had one thing to do with a previous incident the place he was an informant for the Seattle Police Division, for, you recognize, a fraudulent form of ring of, like, credit-card making and issues like that,” Bogosian stated throughout a January interview with CBS Information.
The Seattle Police Division didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Bogosian supplied CBS Information with an e-mail she despatched in February 2020 to a Pennsylvania state trooper and a Seattle detective through which she described Santos’ alleged portrayal of his contact with that detective.
Santos claimed he “was a liaison/informant to his workplace on a case in opposition to a defendant in Washington (Gustavo Ribeiro) and a minimum of three different defendants within the State of Florida, who had been committing id theft and perpetrating frauds as a part of a conspiracy ring,” Bogosian wrote, including that she was supplying data to the detective supplied “by [Santos’] 2017 roommate, an individual solely referred to as ‘Sydney Lima.'”
CBS Information has been unable to contact “Sydney Lima” or affirm that this particular person exists.
- George Santos interviewed by police in 2017 worldwide bank card fraud probe
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