Fort Myers, FL – U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell has sentenced Carlos Tejeda (62, Cape Coral) to 16 years in federal prison, Juan Tejeda (35, Cape Coral) to 15 years in federal prison, and Pedro Pelaez (59, Cape Coral) to 6 years in federal prison for their roles in a large-scale credit card fraud scheme which operated in Cape Coral between late-2015 and mid-2018. On April 27, 2023, a federal jury had found father-and-son ringleaders Carlos and Juan Tejeda guilty of 44 federal offenses, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit money laundering, production of counterfeit access devices, and possession of device-making equipment. For his role in the fraud, the jury found Pelaez guilty of 11 federal offenses, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to evidence presented during the seven-day trial, Carlos Tejeda recruited several friends and associates, including Pedro Pelaez, to create shell companies, obtain credit card processing terminals for their shell companies, and then permit Carlos Tejeda to swipe counterfeit credit cards fraudulently encoded with stolen credit and debit card numbers using the shell company credit card terminals. Evidence showed that Juan Tejeda’s primary role was to encode the counterfeit cards for his father Carlos Tejeda, but that he personally swiped counterfeit cards on the shell company terminals as well. Each fraudulent transaction was typically between $1,000 and $3,000, but the same stolen card number was often used several times across multiple shell companies before victim cardholders from across the United States realized that their card numbers had been compromised.
After the stolen funds were deposited into the shell company bank accounts, the shell company owners would kickback a pre-determined percentage of the fraudulent proceeds to Carlos or Juan and keep the remainder for themselves. In total, nine shell companies were used to perpetrate the fraud, including those personally opened by Carlos and Juan Tejeda. Credit card transaction data presented to the jury showed that during the duration of the fraud, thousands of credit card charges totaling more than $2.6 million were attempted or conducted on the shell company terminals. In total, nine people have now been convicted and sentenced for their roles in this fraud, including the three above-named individuals.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Cape Coral Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Simon R. Eth.