NEWS RELEASE 19-107 - JULY 2, 2019
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office charged seven south Florida residents including an employee of the Florida Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in connection with a data breach that compromised the identity of more than an estimated 2,000 Florida residents.
Detectives launched the initial investigation in May 2019 after being contacted by a retailer in the University Town Center (UTC) area in Sarasota about suspected fraudulent activity. Detectives worked closely with loss prevention personnel to ultimately identify 39-year-old Roxana Ruiz and 43-year-old Eduardo Lamigueiro, who were using the personal information of unsuspecting victims to open credit card accounts for the purchase of more than $6,000 in merchandise. The duo, both from Miami, were arrested on charges of Fraud, Grand Theft, and Criminal Use of Personal Identification. They were booked into the Sarasota County Jail on May 23 and released two days later, on bond.
Based on evidence recovered in their vehicle including cash, a handgun, several pieces of stolen merchandise, and several cellphones, detectives continued their investigation. A search warrant was executed on their cellphones which revealed dozens of images of receipts, counterfeit driver’s licenses, and personal information including addresses, birthdates, phone numbers and social security numbers of unknown people. Based on the images, detectives determined the stolen information was used to perpetuate more than 40 transactions throughout the state of Florida, yielding an estimated $260,000 in retail theft.
Detectives continued to analyze the cellphones which revealed the phone number of 48-year-old Bertanicy Garcia, employed at the time by DCFS as an Interviewing Clerk, based out of their Miami office. Garcia sent more than 500 photos of personal information tied to both adult and child victims, to Lamigueiro. Detectives confirmed the information was accessed using the DCFS database.
Also connected to the organized crime ring is 43-year-old Jose Perez, from the Miami area. Investigation revealed Lamigueiro sent Perez stolen personal identification information that was later used to create fraudulent driver’s licenses that Perez used to make purchases at various retailers in the UTC area. Perez has prior arrests for Conspiracy to Commit Healthcare Fraud, Credit Card Forgery, Obstruction, and more.
Detectives believe the fraudulent driver’s licenses were created by 58-year-old Nelson Cobo-Hernandez and 44-year-old Junior Perodin Verges. The two have significant prior arrests for crimes including Auto Theft Conspiracy, Fraudulent use of Credit Cards, Grand Theft, Title Fraud, Sale of a Vehicle with an Altered ID, Vin Removal, and more.
Finally, detectives also connected 30-year-old Marcos Cobo-Gonzales with the fraud ring after recovering text messages and images sent to Cobo-Gonzalez from Lamigueiro that contained social security numbers. Detectives believe Gonzalez used the social security information for the purpose of tax fraud. He has prior arrests for crimes including Possession of a Counterfeit Credit Card, Fraud, Auto Theft, Obstruction, and more.
“The magnitude and complexity of this investigation really speaks to the high quality law enforcement services we are providing not only to Sarasota County, but also to the state of Florida,” commented Colonel Kurt A. Hoffman. “From digital forensics to good old-fashioned police work, detectives did a tremendous job taking down what we believe is a very significant and dangerous organized fraud ring that has impacted and victimized people and businesses throughout the state of Florida. I am immensely proud today to announce the results of this operation and give credit to all who helped expose a group of people taking advantage of the system and taking advantage of more than 2,000 unsuspecting Floridians.”
In late June, detectives worked in partnership with several law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Secret Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Miami-Dade Police Department, City of Miami Police Department, and Hialeah Police Department, to take five of the seven individuals into custody. Two are still at large.
- Bertanicy Garcia, DOB 02/27/71, of Miami, is charged with two counts of Criminal Use of Personal Identification More than 30 Times.
- Eduardo Lamigueiro, DOB 08/05/75, of Miami, is wanted by authorities. Warrants have been issued for his arrest. He is charged with Criminal Use of Personal Identification More than 30 Times, Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information, and Grand Theft Less than $5,000.
- Roxana Ruiz, DOB 09/11/80, of Miami, is wanted by authorities. Warrants have been issued for her arrest. She is charged is charged with Principal to Criminal Use of Personal Identification More than 30 Times.
- Jose Perez, DOB 10/30/75, of Hialeah, is charged with Criminal Use of Personal identification Information and Grand Theft Less Than $5,000.
- Nelson Cobo-Hernandez, DOB 06/08/081, of Miami, is charged with Principal to Criminal Use of Personal Identification More than 30 Times.
- Junior Perodin Verges, DOB 10/11/74, of Hialeah, is charged with Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information Greater than $5,000.
- Marcos Cobo-Gonzalez, DOB 11/30/88, of Miami, is charged with Principal to Criminal Use of Personal Identification More than 30 Times.
Collectively, those arrested have 40 prior charges and five prior convictions. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are pending. Garcia was terminated from DCFS.