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Gift card scammer admits to stealing $120,000

A Miami man has pleaded guilty to scamming people out of more than $120,000 through a credit and debit card scheme in Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties.

Ernesto Santos, 20, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in federal court, according to a press release on Friday.

Prosecutors allege that Santos and another conspirator traveled in January from Miami to Hamburg, where they were given counterfeit gift cards that were re-encoded with genuine credit and debit card account numbers. The scammers reportedly used 129 cards to buy real Walmart gift cards, then sent those card numbers to another partner.

Santos and the others had 102 more cards with stolen account information when arrested, prosecutors said.

The total estimated loss is $120,689.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 2 before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank Geraci.

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