NEWARK, NJ -- A Newark man was sentenced in Newark federal court to 42 months in prison for selling fake driver’s licenses through an online shop and filing fraudulent tax returns using stolen identity information, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced Monday.
Alexis Scott Carthens, 40, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares on one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the government.
Between October 2012 and August 2014, Ricardo Rosario, 35, of Jersey City, Abraham Corcino, 36, also of Jersey City, and Carthens ran two websites--“fakeidstore.co” and “fakedlstore.com" that sold fake driver's licenses.
A number of the fake driver’s licenses sold by Rosario and his co-conspirators were used by criminals in connection with “cash out” schemes where stolen credit card information–usually obtained through hacking or ATM skimming operations–was encoded onto counterfeit credit cards and used to steal cash from victims’ accounts.
The website sold fake New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin driver’s licenses, with the website boasting that the licenses had “scannable barcodes” and “real” holographic overlays.
The price for each fake driver’s license was approximately $150, with the website offering bulk pricing for orders of 10 or more.
The website allowed its users to pay by Bitcoin, a cryptographic-based digital currency, or MoneyPak, a type of prepaid payment card that can be purchased at retail stores.
The “FAQ” section of the website indicated that orders would be received approximately one to two days after payment was received and described the website’s policy with respect to returns: “No Refunds. No snitching.”
Rosario created and ran the website, while Corcino and Carthens assisted by creating and mailing the fake driver’s licenses purchased through the website.
Corcino also maintained an Instagram account to promote the website.
At his plea hearing, Carthens admitted that his role was to create the driver’s licenses and to mail them to the website’s customers. He also admitted that he believed some of the website’s clients were using the fake licenses to commit credit card fraud.
Carthens also admitted to his involvement in a separate scheme, spanning from December 2012 through November 2013, to use information stolen from a medical lab to file false and fraudulent tax returns.
Carthens admitted to working with at least one other conspirator, who assisted Carthens by providing him with email addresses and physical addresses to receive the fraudulently-claimed tax refund money.
In addition to the prison term, Carthens was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $121,922.32.
Rosario and Corcino have both pleaded guilty to related charges. Rosario was sentenced to 63 months in prison while Corcino was sentenced to three years of probation.