Trio charged with making almost 100 fake credit cards - News, Weather & Sports

Trio charged with making almost 100 fake credit cards

Yumisleidy Echarte Ulloa, Eldanis Figueredo Estrada & Gerson Tamayo Morales are charged with making almost 100 fake credit cards. (Source: LMDC) Yumisleidy Echarte Ulloa, Eldanis Figueredo Estrada & Gerson Tamayo Morales are charged with making almost 100 fake credit cards. (Source: LMDC)
Gerson Tamayo Morales (Source: LMDC) Gerson Tamayo Morales (Source: LMDC)
Yumisleidy Echarte Ulloa (source: LMDC) Yumisleidy Echarte Ulloa (source: LMDC)
Eldanis Figueredo-Estrada (Source: LMDC) Eldanis Figueredo-Estrada (Source: LMDC)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The timing of their arrests suggests a holiday shopping spree interrupted.

A car pulled over for speeding at Preston Highway and the Outer Loop on Dec. 21. Under the hood, dozens of what police and prosecutors call "re-encoded" credit or debit cards. Eight more discovered in glasses cases inside a passenger's purse. Another eight in the driver's wallet.

The grand jury indictment this week doesn't spell out the "how" beyond the scheme alleged; only the "how many."

Gerson Tamayo Morales, 21, faces 88 felony counts of falsely making, or embossing, such cards. Yumisleidy Echarte Ulloa, 23, faces five counts and Eldanis Figueredo Estrada, three counts. Each is a felony, carrying a possible prison term of one to five years.

"Mag-swipe credit cards are completely unencrypted," said Dr. Adrian Lauf, an assistant professor of computer engineering at the University of Louisville. "They have absolutely zero protection of the data that's on the stripe."

A lack of specific information leaves him unable to pinpoint how the cards were created, but Dr. Lauf told WAVE 3 News that weaknesses in credit security and criminal law invite several possibilities. 

"It's very easy to produce physical credit cards," he said. "They can be stamped, you just buy a bunch of blanks. Any credit card reader can actually be turned into a credit card writer. The skimmers themselves can be 3D-printed."

Once the identity thief skims the necessary information, he or she can reprogram the magnetic stripe on the new card with "something as easy as a tape recorder," Lauf said.

Card printer/embossers are hot items on the black market, but they're readily available online through legitimate suppliers who sell such equipment to businesses who create their own rewards cards or VIP cards, Lauf said.

Prices for such "ID printers" or "card personalization systems" range from $400 to more than $1,400.

"The point is, there are no regulations," Lauf said. "The mag-swipe card needs to die. The standard credit card needs to go away."

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"Chip" cards and smart-phone payment systems are encrypted, Lauf said, and a number of banks and other credit issuers are pushing cardholders and vendors to avail themselves of that technology by refusing to be liable for fraudulent charges incurred through stolen mag-stripe data.

Bonds were set when Morales, Ulloa and Estrada were arrested, but records indicate none are in Metro Corrections Custody.

"The bonds are not high, under the circumstances," said Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for the office. "The fact they're from Cuba gives them a protected-status. They can't be deported."

Grand jury documents list Social Security numbers for all three defendants. WAVE 3 News has been unable to confirm their immigration status.

Ulloa and Figueredo-Estrada face additional charges of failure to notify the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet of a change of address. All three are due in Circuit Court on Monday, Morales' 22nd birthday.

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