Over a period of a few months, Historic City News has learned that more than $100,000 in theme park tickets were fraudulently purchased and then resold in a scheme that is sending four family members to federal prison.
Senior U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp has sentenced 50-year-old Eileen Hightower of Kissimmee to three years and ten months for her involvement in an access device fraud ring.
“This family used stolen credit card numbers to obtain counterfeit credit cards as well as counterfeit driver licenses,” said prosecutor, Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Irick. “The account numbers actually belonged to cardholders who were victimized by this scheme.”
The counterfeit credit cards were used by Hightower and her family members to purchase Orlando-area theme park tickets at hotel ticket kiosks throughout central Florida. They then sold the fraudulently-obtained tickets to ticket resellers in Kissimmee.
“Buyer beware,” one spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office told local reporters, as he explained that because the tickets were obtained fraudulently, the theme parks are under no obligation to honor them. “Know your seller, because they may be your only recourse for these fraudulently obtained tickets.”
Because the credit cards and drivers licenses used to make the purchases were counterfeit, the United States Secret Service assisted in the investigation.
Hightower’s children, 26-year-old Samuel Velasquez, Jr. and 25-year-old Sabrina Velasquez, both of Kissimmee, along with her niece, 28-year-old Jennifer Cancel of Hartford Connecticut, were each sentenced to serve a term of three years’ imprisonment.
The Court also ordered the individuals to pay a total of $107.097.33 in restitution. Each previously pled guilty for their role in this case.