George Santos was questioned by U.S. Secret Service in 2017 bank card fraud probe

When George Santos’ Florida tackle was present in 2017 inside a rental automotive utilized by the suspect in an ATM skimming investigation, america Secret Service got here knocking.

Investigators from the company positioned Santos in New York Metropolis, the longer term congressman’s hometown, the place they interviewed him as a part of a probe into worldwide bank card fraud, in keeping with two sources acquainted with the federal investigation. The Secret Service conducts investigations into crimes towards the monetary system which have a nationwide scope.

Santos voluntarily surrendered two cellphones on the Secret Service’s New York discipline workplace, the place the interview occurred, in keeping with the 2 sources acquainted with the investigation. Whereas Santos’s connection to the case stays unclear, and the case stays open, he was not recognized as a suspect of the investigation, the 2 sources advised CBS Information. 

Santos’ interplay with federal investigators is the most recent wrinkle in a little-known affair that started when a person Santos referred to as a “household buddy” was arrested in Seattle on April 27, 2017. The case that emerged towards that buddy revealed an effort to skim ATM numbers from unsuspecting vacationers on the metropolis’s iconic Pike Place Market, and transmit them to Brazil for use illegally.

In an announcement, the Secret Service advised CBS Information, when requested to touch upon the open investigation, “The Secret Service doesn’t verify or touch upon the absence or existence of particular investigations.”

Santos has declined to reply questions in regards to the case. Representatives of Santos didn’t return a request for remark.

A Seattle detective additionally interviewed Santos, calling him shortly after police charged the buddy, Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha, in keeping with a legislation enforcement supply. Santos was contacted by native investigators for a similar cause the Secret Service tracked him down, as a result of his former Florida residence was listed because the sender tackle on a FedEx bundle present in Trelha’s car. Santos advised Seattle police throughout that interview that he had no concept that Trelha was concerned in legal exercise, in keeping with the legislation enforcement supply.

Trelha would later enter a responsible plea to 1 federal depend of felony entry machine fraud and was deported to his native Brazil. However earlier than federal prosecutors took over his case, he was held in a King County jail. 

Santos appeared at Trelha’s bail listening to on Might 15, 2017, describing him as a “household buddy” from Brazil. Throughout the listening to, Santos might be heard in courtroom audio falsely telling the decide that he was employed on the funding agency Goldman Sachs.

“You’re employed for Goldman Sachs in New York?” the decide requested. 

“Yup,” Santos mentioned. Santos seems to deal with the courtroom with out being sworn in.

Court docket audio: George Santos falsely advised a decide he labored for Goldman Sachs


It was a lie Santos repeated as he campaigned for Congress in 2020 and 2022, claiming to be a Goldman Sachs banker on the path and on a resumé launched in January by the native GOP. Within the months since his election, Santos has weathered a stream of revelations about fabrications he is advised, in addition to information that state and federal investigators are probing his marketing campaign and funds.

Santos was not a suspect within the Seattle police case towards Trelha. The legislation enforcement supply mentioned there “was not sufficient proof to affiliate Santos as an confederate.”

At Trelha’s bail listening to, Santos advised a decide he was serving to Trelha by arranging “a protracted extended-stay condo via Airbnb, or no matter web site.” 

“We’re household pals. Our mother and father know one another from Brazil,” Santos mentioned.

Trelha by no means ended up staying in that Airbnb. His bail was decreased from $250,000 to $75,000, a sum Trelha was nonetheless unable to publish. He remained in jail till his responsible plea seven months later, when he was sentenced to time served and transferred to immigration authorities for deportation.

Trelha advised investigators he was paid $100 per day to put in and take away skimming units from ATM machines, importing the retrieved buyer knowledge to a cloud service, in keeping with courtroom paperwork. He mentioned members of a bank card fraud group primarily based in Brazil and Florida downloaded the info. 

Prosecutors referred to as the operation “refined” and mentioned they’d proof Trelha had compromised almost 300 accounts with the cardboard skimmer in simply three days in Seattle. 

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