Bay City Judge Rules On Identity Theft Case 4-29-2011 - WNEM TV 5

Bay City Judge Rules On Identity Theft Case 4-29-2011

There's breaking news on an international identity theft case that started right here in Mid-Michigan.
A federal judge in Bay City has sentenced Greek and Canadian citizen Joanne Tragas to 25 years in prison.
Authorities said she was part of a group that used gift cards encoded with stolen credit and debit card information.
The United States Attorney's Office for Easter District of Michigan said the Secret Service's investigation went from street level participants in the conspiracy to Detroit-area residents who purchased the stolen credit and debit card information from Tragas and encoded that information onto gift cards.
The encoders and crews of shoppers they employed traveled across the U.S. making purchases with fraudulent cards. Authorities said the average purchase was over $1,000 per transaction. Tragas was arrested in Florida while in the country on a tourist visa. The U.S. Attorney's office said Tragas's gross receipts through her participation in the fraud scheme was at least $1 million.
Twelve other Michigan residents were also charged with participation in the scheme. The sentences handed out to those defendants range from probation to multi-year prison terms. All were ordered to pay restitution, as was Tragas, who was ordered to pay back $2.1 million.
Loss prevention officers at the Meijer store on Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw triggered the investigation.
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