SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Ricardo Gabriele-Plage, 39, was sentenced to four years in prison by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley for an identity-theft scheme, announced Special Agent in Charge Tatum King of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco Field Office and U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott, Jan. 9.
According to court documents, in 2017, Gabriele-Plage, a Venezuelan national, traveled to the United States for the purpose of stealing bank customers’ account information. During the course of the scheme, on at least five occasions, Gabriele-Plage and his co-conspirators placed skimming devices in ATMs and installed covert cameras to record users’ personal identification numbers. While the skimmers were in place, hundreds of bank customers used the ATMs. Gabriele-Plage’s co‑conspirators used the stolen account information to create fraudulent credit and debit cards and to make unauthorized charges.
“This sentencing is a testament to the dedication of both the officers of HSI and that of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners,” said Tatum King, special agent in charge of HSI San Francisco. “This type of fraud not only hurts consumers but also the financial institutions involved. HSI is dedicated to finding, apprehending and prosecuting those committing these crimes.”
On Aug. 5, 2017, Gabriele-Plage and co-defendant Luis Jose Ruiz Gainza, 45, a Venezuelan national then-residing in Mexico, were arrested in Sacramento County. During a subsequent search of their hotel room in Rancho Cordova, law enforcement officers found a magnetic stripe reader and encoder, skimmers, covert cameras, and tools used to repair skimmers and install the devices in ATMs.
“To effectively combat these type of crimes, we need the community’s help,” King continued. “I encourage the public to report suspicious criminal activity to the 24-hour HSI Tip Line at 866-347-2423 or to contact local law enforcement.”
This case was the product of an investigation by HSI and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian A. Fogerty prosecuted the case.
On Nov. 21, 2019, Ruiz Gainza was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
HSI is a critical investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security and is a vital U.S. asset in combating criminal organizations illegally exploiting America's travel, trade, financial and immigration systems.