WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The Wilmington Police Department has charged two Florida brothers with running an international scheme to defraud North Carolina-based department store chain Belk.
Henrique Teixeira Mendes De Almeida, 29, and Gustavo Teixeira Mendes De Almeida, 34, were arrested on Dec. 18 and each charged with 21 counts of forgery of instrument and one count of obtaining property by false pretense.
According to WPD officials, a loss prevention officer with Belk at Independence Mall called 911 after recognizing the Almeidas from a notice that was circulated within Belk stores, warning employees of the men. Police eventually arrested the pair at the Belk store at Mayfaire.
During a search of the duo’s rental car, officers found 94 credit cards, 102 Belk gift cards worth $300 each, dozens of items from Belk, a card-scanning device, and an address list for every Belk store in the Southeast. The list had several stores checked off, suggesting they already visited those stores.
The men also had numerous passports from different countries and other forms of ID with different names and information. A spokeswoman for the WPD said the men were in the U.S. from Portugal.
Officials said the credit cards were in their names, however, the magnetic strips were associated with stolen bank account information from across the world.
The pair allegedly would use the stolen information to buy gift cards at Belk then use the gift cards to purchase merchandise. They would then ship the merchandise to a home in Coral Springs, Fla., where they would sell it on the international black market.
Both men were booked into the New Hanover County Jail under $125,000 bonds each.
Wilmington police said the Secret Service, the FBI, ICE, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Coral Springs Police Department assisted in the investigation.
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