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Financial Crimes

Feds win conviction of first defendant in massive credit card fraud scheme

LAS VEGAS — The first defendant to go to trial in "Operation Open Market," a probe targeting a sophisticated cybercrime organization that operated a worldwide online marketplace for stolen personal and financial information, was convicted Friday by a federal jury.

David Ray Camez, 22, of Phoenix, Ariz., was convicted of one count of participating in a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization and one count of conspiracy to participate in a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization. Camez, whose sentencing is set for April 10, 2014, faces up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The trial began Nov. 18.

The charges stem from a long-term undercover probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Secret Service, and members of the Las Vegas-based Southwestern Identity Theft and Fraud Task Force (SWIFT).

"It is difficult to fathom the enormity and complexity of the Carder.su racketeering organization and its far-reaching tentacles across international borders," said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden. "The Internet has provided sophisticated international criminals access to the United States and its citizens, and the ability and means to harm us. It has given new definition to reaching out and touching someone. This verdict and our charges against other members of this criminal organization demonstrate that we are likewise reaching out and touching them with our federal criminal justice system."

"The actions of these computer hackers and identity thieves have harmed countless innocent Americans and seriously compromised our financial system and global commerce," said Michael Harris, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Las Vegas. "These criminals may think they can escape detection by hiding behind their computer screens here and overseas, but as this verdict demonstrates, cyberspace is not a refuge from American justice."

Camez was one of 39 charged in an indictment returned in January 2012. Five other defendants have pleaded guilty, seven are scheduled for trial in February 2014, and the rest are fugitives. Sixteen other defendants linked to the scheme are charged in three separate indictments. Most of those defendants are also scheduled to go to trial in February as well.

The target of the undercover probe, which began in March 2007, was an organization known as "Carder.su." During the investigation, a special agent posed as a member of the organization. The probe revealed members of the ring, known as "carders," were involved in large-scale trafficking of compromised credit card account data and counterfeit credit cards, as well as money laundering, narcotics trafficking and various types of computer crime. The organization operated an Internet web portal, called a forum, where members could purchase the illicitly obtained data and share knowledge of various fraud schemes. A second forum was created to vet incoming new members. The forums were generally hosted within the former Soviet Union where the upper echelon members of the organization resided. It was estimated that, in July 2011, there were more than 5,500 members.

Authorities determined members of the organization had different roles, including moderators who directed other members in carrying out activities; reviewers who examined and tested products, services, and contraband; vendors who advertised and sold products, services and contraband; and the members themselves. Members were required to successfully complete a number of security features designed to protect the organization from infiltration by law enforcement or members of rival criminal organizations.

Camez became a member of the organization in 2008 under the name "Bad Man." He also used the name "doctorsex." During 2009 and 2010, the undercover special agent had multiple contacts with Camez in which Camez purchased counterfeit Nevada and Arizona driver's licenses. Investigators also intercepted and seized a package shipped to Camez from Pakistan which contained counterfeit credit and gift cards. During a search of Camez's Phoenix home in May 2010, agents recovered counterfeit credit cards, equipment used to manufacture counterfeit credit cards, counterfeit U.S. currency and counterfeit identification documents. A search of Camez's computer revealed software used to encode counterfeit credit cards and stolen identity information.

In addition to HSI, the U.S. Secret Service and members of the SWIFT Task Force, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Computer Crimes Division, also provided assistance in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly M. Frayn and Andrew W. Duncan, and Trial Attorney Jonathan Ophardt of the U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime and Gang Section.

The law enforcement action is sponsored by President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.