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Owners of dollar stores in South Florida are accused of using bogus gift cards to buy millions of dollars worth of beer and cigarettes.Judge Stacy Glick sets bond.
Owners of dollar stores in South Florida are accused of using bogus gift cards to buy millions of dollars’ worth of beer and cigarettes.
Authorities arrested 15 people. Each faces dozens of criminal charges, including identity theft, money laundering and grand theft, according to court records.
Investigators say the store owners, or their representatives, would fly around the country and use counterfeit credit cards to buy gift cards from Walmart and Sam's Club stores.
Police say the defendants would then come back to Miami, buy beer and cigarettes at a Sam's Club in Doral, the re-sell those items at their dollar stores.
In all more than $13 million in products were purchased with some 56,000 gift cards, investigators said.
Bond was set Wednesday at $880,000 for each of the defendants in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Some of those arrested are owners of the stores, while others may work there or are otherwise connected to them.
Investigators said they found $700,000 in cash at the house of one of the defendants, Luis Cabello Perez, 33. When his attorney asked Judge Stacy Glick for a lower bond, she quickly told him why his bond would remain at $880,000.
“Here’s my concern, OK. If he’s hiding $750,000 before they stopped counting that money, how do I know that they don’t keep it somewhere else, because apparently he doesn’t keep his money in a bank,” Glick said.