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Miami man, arrested in January at Albion Wal-Mart, pleads guilty to massive fraud

Staff Reports Posted 17 December 2017 at 9:50 am

BUFFALO – One of three men charged with fraud last January at the Albion Wal-Mart has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Yordani Ramirez Salgado, 28, of Miami, Florida, on Friday pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno, who is handling the case, stated that on January 18, 2017, the defendant and co-conspirators –Ernesto Alvarez Santos and Abel Garcia Fernandez – flew from Miami, Florida to Hartford, Connecticut.

After arriving in Connecticut, Salgado and Santos rented a car and drove to Hamburg, NY where they re-united with Fernandez. In Hamburg, Fernandez provided the defendant and Santos with numerous counterfeit access devices including gift cards re-encoded with account numbers for actual credit card or debit card accounts at various financial institutions, Bonanno said.

Between Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, 2017, Salgado and Santos used 129 different counterfeit access devices to purchase gift cards at various Wal-Mart stores in Erie, Niagara, and Orleans counties. Upon purchasing the legitimate Wal-Mart gift cards, the defendants transmitted the legitimate gift card numbers by cellular telephone to another co-conspirator, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition, Salgado and Santos possessed an additional 102 different counterfeit access devices, which consisted of gift cards re-encoded with account numbers for actual credit card or debit card accounts at various financial institutions. The account holders of these credit card or debit card accounts did not authorize use of their credit card or debit card account information. The total estimated loss amount is $120,689.02, the U.S. Attorney said.

The scam by the trio was discovered at the Wal-Mart in Albion on Jan. 24. When police approached Salgado, he attempted to flee and resisted arrest.

Salgado was transported to the State Police barracks in Albion for processing on Jan. 24. The other suspects fled the scene in a red Nissan Versa which was given out by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.  This vehicle was later located by an off-duty county dispatcher traveling on State Route 98. With the assistance of an Orleans County deputy that vehicle was stopped and Fernandez and Santos were detained and transported to the State Police in Albion.

The case was transferred to U.S. District Court. Santos has previously been convicted and sentenced. The case against Fernandez remains pending.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the United States Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Lewis Robinson.

Sentencing for Salgado is scheduled for March 5, 2018, before Chief Judge Geraci.

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