Credit Card Fraud Uncovered: Florida Duo Arrested For Using Counterfeits In Scam

Credit card fraud can be a horrifying thing when it happens to you. It generally means you're going to have to call the bank, and have them close the account and re-issue a new credit card number. In the case of two men from Florida, however, they were caught perpetuating a different kind of fraud on Thursday at 8:15 p.m.

Alejandro Linares Barrios of Miami Beach, and Olaf Odin Azaarian of Hialeah had made a trip to New England to make purchases using counterfeit cards. Then they would turn around and return the items they "bought" in exchange for gift cards. Massachusetts authorities said that Barrios admitted to buying the fake cards from a Russian website, but the extent of the effort used was far beyond that.

At the time of the arrest, Barrios and Azaarian had been in possession of nearly $4,000 in illegally-acquired gift cards, with several more unused credit cards and unreturned purchases remaining in the car. The credit cards weren't the only fakes in their possession, as Barrios also revealed that the driver's license he had on hand was for a fictitious Michael Stevenson, a Wisconsin resident, according to the card.

Barrios produced 10 counterfeit cards under the fictitious name, and in all there were more than 50 fake cards accounted for. Alejandro alone had bought 40 such cards off the Russian website for $200 in preparation for the scam the two attempted at the Solomon Pond Mall.

The scam involved several stores in the mall, and it seemed someone was keeping a lookout for unusual activity. It is unknown how they were discovered, whether it was an attentive member of security or a store manager who discovered the card used was fraudulent. The two eventually ran out of luck when Solomon Pond Mall security called the police.

It seems the new credit card bill signed into law by President Barack Obama didn't stop fraudulent activity. The new law states that all new credit lines must be accompanied by an additional security chip which verifies the identity of the cardholder as well as the funds available. You may have seen the new card swipers with a slot in the bottom for these. You insert the card chip first and process the payment that way. They do still have the usual magnetic strip for shopkeepers who haven't upgraded to the new standard yet.

Of course the new security chips aren't foolproof, as Barrios and Azaarian proved. A trend which started this past decade of buying online from sites like Amazon, Walmart, and other merchants doesn't use the chip. It's still possible for databases to be hacked, and for keyloggers to steal your credit card numbers directly from your key presses.

One way to fool these keylogger programs is to enter the wrong number from the start, and then edit the numbers out of order until the number matches the card.

Apparently Barrios, 43, and Azaaria, 42, decided to take the riskier approach and put more effort into the scam. Setting up a fake driver's license and over 50 counterfeit cards, and then traveling up the east coast to a mall was ambitious, even though it didn't pay off.

Massachusetts Police have arrested the two on charges of card fraud, conspiracy to commit a crime, improper use, buying the cards illegally, and possession of a blank credit card. Judge Michael Fabbri of the Marlborough District Court ruled on Friday that Barrios will be held on $4,000 bail, and Azaaria on $2,000 bail, with an pre-trial conference on May 2.

[Feature image via Matt Cardy/Getty Images]