Federal prosecutors have secured an unusually stiff sentence against a low-level identity thief by invoking the same law used to target bosses of the Gambino crime family and Los Angeles street gangs.
On Thursday, David Ray Camez, 22, was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison and pay $20 million in restitution for his participation in carder.su, a website that allowed people to collaborate on crimes involving identity theft, computer malware, and other types of online graft. He was already serving a seven-year sentence for the same acts when he and 38 others were charged in a 2012 indictment. The indictment alleged violations of the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which allows for harsh criminal and civil penalties for acts that are part of ongoing criminal enterprise.
Under RICO, it didn’t matter that Camez’s conduct was an infinitesimal part of the illegal acts carried out on carder.su; or that he was just 17 or 18 years old when he was caught purchasing or possessing counterfeit drivers licenses, credit and gift cards, and equipment for manufacturing counterfeit cards. During sentencing, prosecutors provided evidence establishing the site, with an estimated 5,500 members as of 2011, was responsible for losses totaling $50 million. Feds also established that carder.su was a criminal enterprise engaged in large-scale trafficking of compromised credit cards and identities. The showings were some of the many factors under RICO that allowed for increased penalties for Camez, who went by the online aliases “Bad Man” and “doctorsex.”
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