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‘Interstate Boys’ get 41 months each in federal prison for $1 million stolen ID phone scam

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Two members of the “Interstate Boys” crew were sentenced to 41 months in federal prison each today for using hundreds of stolen IDs to buy thousands of T-Mobile phones at Wal-Marts from Maine to Florida that they used and then sold.

Ralbert Olacio, 24, and Edwin Rodriguez, 22, both of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to the crimes in February.

A third co-conspirator, Alfredo Rodriguez, 23, also of Brooklyn, previously pleaded guilty, as well, and is awaiting sentencing.

In addition to the prison terms, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas sentenced Olacio to three years supervised release and Rodriguez to two years supervised release. Each was ordered to pay restitution of $868,125.

T-Mobile and Wal-Mart reported losses of nearly $1 million, not to mention the costs incurred by taxpayers to investigate the crime wave, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

Olacio and Rodriguez said they obtained driver’s licenses in their victims’ names, then opened the accounts at 350 different Wal-Marts from Maine to Florida, including several in New Jersey.

Once the accounts were open, they told a federal judge, they bought roughly 2,000 discounted phones available to new T-Mobile customers only at the department store chain. They said they then made calls on the phones before selling them off.

The two men didn’t say where they obtained the names and Social Security numbers of more than 400 victims.

“Retailers such as Wal-Mart typically offer cellular handsets to new T-Mobile customers at steep discounts because they receive incentives from T-Mobile over time that help offset the discount amount,” Fishman said. “In the event such an account is deactivated for fraud, Wal-Mart does not receive any incentives from T-Mobile and solely bears the losses associated with the discounts it offered.

“In most cases, the fraudulent T-Mobile accounts were deactivated by T-Mobile for fraud or identity theft shortly after they were established,” the U.S. Attorney said. “Nevertheless, T-Mobile suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses as a result of unpaid service charges, among other things.

“In addition, Wal-Mart suffered significant losses related to its sale of discounted cellular handsets to defendants because it was unable to recoup the incentives it expected when it sold the equipment,” he added. “In total, the defendants’ scheme has resulted in approximately $1 million in losses to T-Mobile and Wal-Mart associated with unpaid T-Mobile cellular service, discounted cellular handsets, and the costs associated with investigating the defendants’ criminal conduct.”

Fishman praised investigators with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and thanked T-Mobile USA’s Major Investigations Group and Wal-Mart’s Asset Protection Group, both of which he said “worked closely with federal law enforcement during the course of the investigation.”

The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gurbir S. Grewal of the Fishman’s Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

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