Investing.com -- A member of a U.S. based, Russian-led credit card and identity theft crime ring, was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison on Thursday and ordered to pay $50.8 million in restitution.
Jermaine Smith, 34, an online vendor from East Orange, New Jersey, pleaded guilty in October to one count of participating in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO), stemming from his involvement with Carder.su, a widespread enterprise accused of compromising credit card data, money laundering, narcotics trafficking and other types of computer crimes.
While awaiting a pretrial hearing in August, 2013, Smith removed an electric monitoring device and fled to Jamaica, where he was captured by members of the nation's major organized crime anti-corruption task force four months later. During Smith's time in Jamaica, investigators from the country said he allegedly laundered more than $6 million through a channel of local banks. Smith's transgressions allegedly stretched to three other continents.
"Criminal cyber organizations like Carder.su threaten not just U.S. citizens but people in every corner of the globe," said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said in a statement. "Managers in Russia seamlessly ran their criminal enterprise online using, among others, a counterfeit card vendor from New Jersey, with whom they communicated through screen name aliases. The success in this case was achieved through equally seamless cooperation with our foreign law enforcement partners and effective use of the RICO statute. As more countries work with us to fight these organizations, we will continue to evolve to meet this growing threat."
Upon his guilty plea, Smith admitted to creating losses of seven to $20 million among approximately 250 victims. Smith who operated under aliases such as "SirCharlie57," and "Fairbusinessman," among others, allegedly sold counterfeit credit cards to an undercover agent, the Justice Department said in a statement. Smith later admitted to possessing more than 2,150 stolen credit and debit card numbers.
More than 55 individuals have been charged in the lengthy inquiry dubbed "Operation Open Market," aimed at bringing down the multinational organization that reportedly has nearly 8,000 members. The operation marks the first time the Department of Justice has used federal racketeering statutes against a cybercrime organizations, according to prosecutors.
Last April, Cameron Harrison, the alleged mastermind of the organization, pleaded guilty to RICO charges related to the case.
Of the charged individuals in the case, 26 have been convicted according to the Justice Departments. The others are either fugitives or pending trial.
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