Two people staying in a Bradenton hotel have been arrested after they flew from New York to Florida solely to commit widespread fraud throughout the state, law enforcement officials say.
Walmart loss prevention contacted the Sarasota County Sheriff's office Tuesday night to report that the pair had tried to buy gift cards at the North Port store and then the one on Cattlemen Road, but left when they were asked for identification, according to the sheriff's report.
Sheriff's deputies found the suspects in a rental vehicle at Burlington Coat Factory in Sarasota.
During the investigation, deputies learned the pair used cloned credit cards to buy gift cards at more than a half-dozen stores Tuesday along the West Coast of Florida from Zephyrhills to Port Charlotte, the report stated. More than 50 credit cards and about $3,000 worth of gift cards were found in the car, deputies said.
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On Wednesday, Sarasota deputies searched the suspects' room at the Courtyard by Marriott on Riverfront Drive, with the assistance of the Bradenton Police Department. They found a cloning machine, a computer, a thumb drive with stolen credit card numbers and more credit cards, the report stated.
Graisy Pichardo, 22, and Myles Nicholas, 26, are charged with trafficking in counterfeit credit cards, two counts of grand theft, one count of petit theft, and three counts of fraudulent use of a credit card. Additional charges, including multiple counts of identity theft, are pending.
They were being held at the Sarasota County jail on bonds totaling $15,120 each.
Detectives are continuing the investigation locally and with a number of other jurisdictions, the report stated. Sarasota sheriff's officials credited the quick arrest to the public-private partnership that Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has with national retailers and their local loss prevention officers in efforts to stop retail theft and fraud.