CT man pleads guilty in large ID theft and fraud scheme

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Luis Melendez, also known as “Ramiro Morales-Cruz,” 33, of New Haven, pleaded guilty today before Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft stemming from a $780,000 credit card fraud scheme.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on May 7, 2009, Melendez entered the Sam’s Club located at 69 Pavilions Drive in Manchester, Connecticut, and produced what purported to be a Massachusetts photo identification card of an individual (“G.I.”). Melendez represented himself as G.I., who is an actual person and who had a preexisting credit account at Sam’s Club. Melendez requested a new Sam’s Club membership and credit card, which is valid at Sam’s Club and Walmart stores. Sam’s Club produced a new card for Melendez and put his picture on the card. Melendez then used the unauthorized card on May 7 and May 8, 2009, to make numerous transactions totaling $9,771.60 at a Sam’s Club location in Newington, and at Walmart locations in Newington, Manchester, Groton, East Windsor, Wallingford, and Hartford.

Melendez has admitted that, between April 2008 and July 2009, he fraudulently took over approximately 117 Sam’s Club and Walmart credit accounts in a similar manner and engaged in unauthorized transactions at various Sam’s Club and Walmart locations in Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Puerto Rico. As a result, the businesses and the credit company that supported the credit accounts suffered losses of $781,571.80.

Judge Covello has scheduled sentencing for August 31, 2010, at which time Melendez faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years of the access device fraud charge, and a mandatory two-year sentence, consecutive to any term of imprisonment imposed on the access device fraud charge, on the charge of aggravated identity theft.

This matter was investigated by the United States Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David E. Novick.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Connecticut

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