Officers with the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force arrested two men and one woman last week in Hickman County after they were found with more than a dozen fraudulent Visa cards in their possession.
Task force Agent Scott Owens said the trio is part of a major fraud ring in south Florida.
Owens pulled them over on April 2 after spotting their minivan traveling too close to a semi-truck on Interstate 40.
Agent Owens told Nashville's News 2 Investigates he spoke to the driver, Ruiz Medina Cramer, a Cuban National from Miami, in Spanish, but his story did not add up.
“He knew the female passenger's first name, not her last name, and they were friends, according to him,” Owens recalled.
After getting passengers Rodolfo Jerez and Nancy Torrens out of the van, Owens received verbal and written consent to search the vehicle.
During the search, he found more than a dozen fraudulent Visa cards with the name Michelle Walker but with Torrens' picture.
Equally alarming, agents found a thick folder on Walker including her financial data, credit history and even mortgage statements.
In addition, Owens told Nashville's News 2 Investigates they had merchandise worth thousands of dollars purchased in Middle Tennessee, including power tools from Lowe's, clothing from Victoria's Secret and watches from Kohl's.
All of the merchandise was purchased using fake credit cards and fake identification, Owens said.
“They buy stuff all over the country, take it back [home] and sell it at retail price,” he explained. “The people with the cards get 50% of the profits. It is elaborate. We have worked cases where they have people working in licensed branches, making IDs legitimately with fake information.”
Owens continued, “It is becoming, according to Secret Service, one of the hottest white collar crimes in the USA.”
According to Owens, the Visa cards with Torrens' picture appeared to be Bank of America cards but the numbers actually route back to U.S. Bank in Australia.
“These magnetic strips, they wipe them clean, put your credit information on the strip and now you can go into Lowe's with a fake ID and spend your bank account in hours,” Owens said, adding, “It's a hard crime to prosecute… like chasing ghosts.”
The trio remained behind bars in the Hickman County jail Tuesday.
According to task force agents, the driver's ID, Ruiz Cramer, doesn't exist.
Immigration agents said they are aware of the trio.
Task force members have been in contact with law enforcement in south Florida where authorities say Torrens has a record of similar fraudulent activity.