Elizabeth Man Sentenced To Three Years For Credit Card Fraud

Andres A. Correa (aka Frank Perec), 30, of Elizabeth was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Robert J. Mega in Union County to three (3) years in state prison on October 29, 2010 for his role in a scheme to steal the identities of others and engage in credit card fraud.

Detective Keith Wintermute, with the assistance of Detective Dominick Frino and Sergeant David Pitts, examined numerous pages of credit card statements from victims who reported that their credit card accounts were compromised. In all, 15 victims came to the Roselle Park Police to file credit card fraud reports. While none of the victims lost possession of their actual cards, Detective Wintermute was able to find a common thread – that being that all the victims had made an authorized purchase at the Delta Gas Station, 139 East Westfield Avenue, located directly across the street from Roselle Park Police Headquarters.

Detective Wintermute developed his case from there and determined that the victims were then reporting unauthorized transactions days, weeks, and, in some cases, months after the credit card numbers were actually lifted with a skimming device. Detective Wintermute then interviewed potential witnesses at the businesses that the re-encoded cards were used and in some cases obtained video surveillance of the actors making the transactions. The most difficult part of the case was to identify the actors; that came from obtaining actual credit cards receipts, examining them, and working any clue possible.

The break in the case came when Detective Wintermute found a readable signature, was able to determine the name associated with the signature, and matched it with an actual person. That person was Andres A. Correa, age 30, of Elizabeth.

Finally, on October 24, 2008, officers from the Division of Criminal Justice, Office of Insurance Fraud, the Roselle Park Police Department and other assisting agencies executed several search warrants, including the Delta Gas Station in Roselle Park. As a result of that search warrant police also recovered a stolen automobile engine and a stolen automobile transmission.

Correa was not an employee of the Delta Gas Station but he provided electronic skimming devices to an employee of the Delta gas station. The skimming devices were used to obtain and store the account numbers of the customers. Correa paid the gas station employee for each payment card account number that was collected with the skimmer device.

Credit card users are warned to ensure that their credit cards are always within their eyesight when handed over to a gas station attendant, waiter/waitress, or cashier. Skimming devices are small enough to fit in a pocket and can be compromised within a few seconds. It is also recommended that credit card user examine their statements on a regular basis and report any discrepancies to their bank and the police immediately.

Many banks offer fraud or suspicious activity alerts to by email or text and can be activated by contacting your specific financial institution.