CA: Leader of Santa Cruz ID theft crime ring sentenced to prison

Jennifer Squires reports:

An Aptos man who ran a sophisticated crime ring that stole credit card numbers, fenced electronics purchased illegally and sold heroin, cocaine and steroids pleaded guilty to dozens of charges Friday.

Paul Munster, 33, was sentenced to eight years in state prison and ordered to pay more than $80,000 in restitution to credit card companies and banks, according to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office.

During an 18-month period, Munster recruited waiters and waitresses from drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation programs in Santa Cruz and San Francisco to “skim” the credit cards of their customers, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He provided them with the equipment that surreptitiously recorded the credit card numbers, then paid between $10 and $40 per name and number. More than 100 credit card numbers were skimmed.


It’s not the first time Munster has been connected to an identity-theft and drug-sales scheme.

He and a co-conspirator were arrested in 2001 when Scotts Valley police stumbled onto an ID theft ring involving as many as 100 victims. At the time, police were investigating marijuana cultivation and methamphetamine sales, according to Sentinel archives.

Read more in The Mercury News

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