A man convicted of fraud and deported to Brazil after being caught using a credit card skimming device at Seattle ATMs has implicated Rep. George Santos (R-NY) in the scheme. Santos was the ringleader of the operation according to Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha.
Trelha sent a sworn declaration to the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service New York office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York. The Secret Service questioned Santos at the time but did not press charges. The investigation remains open.
“I am coming forward today to declare that the person in charge of the crime of credit card fraud when I was arrested was George Santos / Anthony Devolder,” Trelha wrote in the declaration. “Santos taught me how to skim card information and how to clone cards. He gave me all the materials and taught me how to put skimming devices and cameras on ATM machines.”
Trelha met Santos in Miami and they quickly moved in together. “That is when and where I learned from him how to clone ATM and credit cards,” he said in the document.
He told authorities that Santos kept a warehouse in the area that was full of skimming equipment.
“He had a lot of material — parts, printers, blank ATM and credit cards to be painted and engraved with stolen account and personal information. Santos gave me at his warehouse, some of the parts to illegally skim credit card information. Right after he gave me the card skimming and cloning machines, he taught me how to use them,” Trelha wrote.
Trelha was arrested in Seattle when he was caught on video removing a skimming device from an ATM. He had a fake Brazillian ID card and ten fake credit cards in his hotel room. Police found an empty FedEx box in his car; the return address was Santos’ apartment.
“We used a computer to be able to download the information on the pieces. We also used an external hard drive to save the filming, because the skimmer took the information from the card, and the camera took the password,” he wrote. “It didn’t work out so well, because I was arrested.”
Trelha also said that Santos visited him in jail and threatened him if he told authorities the soon-to-be congressman was involved. He offered to help Trelha get out of jail if he complied, but if he didn’t, he’d make sure Trelha’s friends were deported back to Brazil.
“Santos threatened my friends in Florida that I must not say that he was my boss,” he wrote. “Santos did not help me to get out of jail. He also stole the money that I had collected for my bail.”
Santos, of course, denies the allegation. He has also denied every other accusation about his past and has repeatedly been caught lying about his background. He is also under investigation in Brazil for theft and fraud.
On Twitter, Santos responded, calling the allegations “insanity” and “categorically false.”
After being elected to represent New York’s Third Congressional District and becoming the first out gay Republican elected to Congress, Santos’ life story came crumbling down as several newspapers reported he never went to the colleges he said he attended, never worked for the major banks he said he worked for, and that he had been lying about his family history as well. He has admitted to many of these lies, calling them “a little bit of fluff” on his resume.
Santos admitted that he lied about graduating from Baruch College and New York University, working directly for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and living at a fake address in his congressional district. He provided no additional proof to support claims that his grandparents escaped the Holocaust and that he lost four employees in the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.
He has been accused of stealing from roommates, lying about his marital status, stealing funds raised for a dog’s surgery, and faking a man’s signature on campaign finance forms.