YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Two members of a crew calling themselves the “Interstate Boys” admitted today that they used hundreds of stolen IDs to buy thousands of T-Mobile phones at Wal-Marts from Maine to Florida that they used and then sold.
T-Mobile and Wal-Mart sustained losses of nearly $1 million, not to mention the costs incurred by taxpayers to investigate the crime wave, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.
Ralbert Olacio, 23, and Edwin Rodriguez, 22, both of Brooklyn, said they obtained driver’s licenses in their victims’ names, then opened the accounts at 350 different Wal-Marts, including several in New Jersey.
Once the accounts were open, they told a federal judge in Newark, they bought discounted phones available to new T-Mobile customers only at the department store chain.
They said they then made calls on the phones before selling them off.
The two men didn’t say where they obtained the names and Social Security numbers of more than 400 victims.
“In most cases, the fraudulent T-Mobile accounts were deactivated by T-Mobile for fraud or identity theft shortly after they were established,” Fishman said in a statement.
“Nevertheless, T-Mobile suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses as a result of unpaid service charges, among other things,” Fishman said. “In addition, Wal-Mart suffered significant losses related to its sale of discounted cellular handsets to defendants because it was unable to recoup the incentives it expected when it sold the equipment.”
U.S. District Judge Esther Salas set a June 4 sentencing date for both men.
A third member of the crew, Alfredo Rodriguez, 23, also of Brooklyn, will be sentenced on May 9 after admitting his role last month.
Fishman praised investigators with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and thanked T-Mobile USA’s Major Investigations Group and Wal-Mart’s Asset Protection Group, both of which he said “worked closely with federal law enforcement during the course of the investigation.”
The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gurbir S. Grewal of the Fishman’s Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.