WATERVILLE — Police charged two men with creating fake credit cards using stolen numbers to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of gift and credit cards from at least one local store.

Arrested Tuesday were Mario Adan Ebanks Benitez, 31, and Alexey Caraballo-Rosado, 35, at Wal-Mart in Waterville. Each is charged with five counts of misuse of identification, according to police Chief Joseph Massey. The men told police they are from Cuba, he said.

Meanwhile, local police are working with U.S. Homeland Security and the state police’s Maine Information & Analysis Center, as well as with Bangor police because the men had rented a hotel room in Bangor, Massey said.

Police searched that room Tuesday and said they discovered a machine used to create fraudulent cards. The Analysis Center is able to distribute information about the men to every law enforcement agency in the state to try to determine if similar incidents have occurred elsewhere, Massey said.

Officials are trying to determine if the men are from Cuba and if so, when they entered the United States, whether they are here legally and whether they are working with other people on the card scam, Massey said. Benitez gave police an address in Kissimmee, Florida, and Caraballo-Rosado gave an address in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Massey said Wednesday that many of the false cards had monetary amounts on them, but many did not.


“Right now, the total face value of items recovered is about $11,000, but there are more than 40 cards we don’t know the amounts on, so it could easily double that amount,” Massey said.

Police began investigating when they received three calls Monday from people in the Waterville area who said their credit cards had been used to purchase items at Wal-Mart in Waterville on Friday, according to Massey. They said their banks had contacted them to ask if they had used those cards Friday as the banks had been alerted that there was a problem.

All three people said they had not used their cards at the store, and they had possession of their cards, Massey said.

Waterville police Officer Chase Fabian reviewed Wal-Mart security video at about 1 p.m. Tuesday, Massey said.

“He went to the security office and while they were showing Officer Fabian the video of two people making transactions Friday, those two suspects actually walked into Wal-Mart so he confronted both and detained them, around 1:30, 1:45 p.m. yesterday, and actually ended up arresting them on scene for the Friday purchases and charged them with misuse of identification,” Massey said.

Caraballo-Rosado and Benitez had made five purchases Friday, so each was charged with five counts of misuse of identification, he said.


Police said they found six $100 pre-paid MasterCards totaling $600 on Benitez, as well as four Wal-Mart gift cards of unknown value and one Visa debit card of an unknown value with Benitez’s name on it, according to Massey.

Police found on Caraballo-Rosado five NetSpend pre-paid Visa debit cards with an unknown value, two MyVanilla pre-paid MasterCards with unknown values, two Wal-Mart cards with unknown values and a U.S. Bank debit card with his name on it, Massey said.

Police also seized and searched a 2007 Chrysler with Nevada plates at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday that the men had traveled to Wal-Mart in and found four MyVanilla pre-paid MasterCards with unknown values, 12 NetSpend pre-paid Visa debit cards with unknown values and 24 $100 MyVanilla MasterCard gift cards, for a total of $2,400, Massey said. Also in the car were two $499 Western Union checks totaling $998 and four $50 Google Play gift cards.

Both men were taken to the police station, where they indicated to police they do not speak English, Massey said.

“They did say they were from Cuba and their status in the U.S. right now is unknown to us,” he said. “We brought in one of our officers, Luis Rodriguez, who speaks Spanish, so he was able to question them, although they denied knowing anything about debit cards, credit cards, making purchases.”

Asked why they were in Waterville, the suspects said they came up “to look at the fishing industry, look for work, but they would not say much more than that,” Massey said.


“It’s very fortunate for us that we had an officer who could speak Spanish and communicate with them,” he added. “We found some paperwork indicating that they might have some sort of a work visa but we aren’t sure if it is valid.”

Police contacted Homeland Security officials, who are working with officers on the investigation, he said.

Police found a receipt for a Bangor hotel in the men’s possession and worked with Bangor police, who secured the hotel room. Armed with a search warrant, Fabian and detectives Dave Caron and Damon Lefferts went to Bangor Tuesday night and searched the room. In it, they found 16 Western Union checks totaling $6,785, according to Massey. He said one can go to Western Union and buy a check for a specified amount and write on it a name of someone to whom you want to issue the check.

“Those checks are valid checks,” Massey said. “They can be legally cashed. The only problem is, they were paid for with stolen credit cards.”

Police also found in the hotel room five MyVanilla pre-paid MasterCards with unknown value, five NetSpend pre-paid Visa debit cards, of unknown value, one Acer laptop computer and 1 MSR X6 credit card reader and writer.

“That is a machine that allows you to take someone’s credit card and swipe it in the machine and get all that person’s information and also allows them to take a blank credit card and then they can make whatever type of card they want. Now they have a legitimate credit card number that this machine is able to transfer into a magnetic card and go out and use the card,” Massey explained.


Massey hopes police will start to receive information from other agencies about whether Caraballo-Rosado and Benitez have been involved in similar scams elsewhere.

“I would be very surprised if Waterville is the only community where they have done the same thing,” he said. “My sense is that there are probably a lot more victims out there.”

The men are being held at the jail on single-surety bail of $2,000 each, on each count of misuse of identification, according to Massey.

“The difficult thing is, a lot of times victims are large banks and they just don’t come forward and get involved,” he said.

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