Years ago, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving discontinued production of denominations of U.S. currency greater than $100.00 and soon implemented enhanced security measures to thwart counterfeiters from reproducing notes of all denominations.
As criminals would find a new color matching technology, printing method, or source of passable paper, the government countered with a new countermeasure. Eventually counterfeiters, like any other criminal, figured there’s an easier way to steal their fortunes.
Today, thieves have found that it is easiest to counterfeit electronic methods of payment; and last week, Historic City News learned that two Columbian men were observed in St Augustine as they were looting an automated teller machine.
Early Friday evening, Lt. Michael Strausbaugh entered the Racetrac convenience store located at 2711 SR-16 when he was approached by a witness who reported that two men were using numerous credit cards to withdraw large sums of money from a nearby ATM.
The witness told Strausbaugh that he became suspicious when observed one of the men reading to the other from a ledger that he believed contained a record of credit card account numbers and dollar amounts.
Financial Crimes Detective Joshua Buck along with an agent from the US Secret Service and an interpreter responded to aid the investigation. Agents located numerous credit and gift cards apparently tossed into nearby bushes.
The two men were identified as 36-year-old Jorge Enrique Mendez-Sarta, and 37-year-old Miyer Hamilton Poveda-Amaya. The men were driving a rented vehicle and had given an address in Orlando.
The men were arrested and an inventory of the vehicle, before it was impounded, revealed 64 credit or gift cards; 43 of which were determined to have been re-encoded using allegedly stolen bank account information. Investigators also located nearly $11,000 in US currency, over $12,400 in money orders, and $175 in unopened gift cards.
Mendez-Sarta and Poveda-Amaya were booked into the St Johns County Detention Facility where they remain in lieu of bonds totaling $112,500.