A federal judge has sentenced a Tampa man to five years and 10 months in federal prison in connection with identity theft and possession of firearms, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
Michael Prime, 40, of Tampa and formerly of Brandon, pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to charged of access device (credit card) fraud, identity theft, and possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. Prime was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.
According to court documents, on Sept. 29, 2018, law enforcement officers searched Prime’s residence in Tampa. Prime, a multiple-convicted felon, unlawfully possessed firearms and ammunition.
While searching Prime’s home, law enforcement officers seized 1,774 counterfeit credit and debit cards; 1,490 blank cards, some of which contained magnetic stripes and credit or debit card chips; 37 counterfeit driver licenses and IDs; counterfeit Social Security card templates; sheets of holograms used for manufacturing credit cards, debit cards and IDs; counterfeit chips for credit and debit card manufacturing; and printers and engravers (including a credit card printing machine and 3D printers).
A search of Prime’s electronic equipment resulted in the discovery of hundreds of additional credit and debit account numbers, images of about 32 drivers licenses and ID cards, driving permits from about 12 different issuing states, a counterfeit U.S. Army ID card purportedly for a lieutenant colonel, five images of Canadian driver licenses, two Portuguese citizen identification cards, and the image of a counterfeit Republic de Angola passport, five images of Social Security cards, and four images of a counterfeit $100 U.S. Federal Reserve note.
Investigators said they learned that Prime sold “ghost guns” (untraceable firearms) that he manufactured and advertised for $1,500 on the Dark Web, along with counterfeit credit cards and fake IDs. He also sold counterfeit credit cards on the website Republic of Lampeduza, which facilitated the commission of credit card fraud by hosting, receiving, and selling stolen credit and debit card account information resulting from online breaches.
In total, investigators seized approximately 5,493 access (credit card) devices from Prime, including credit card account numbers, debit card account numbers, and Social Security numbers. As a previously convicted felon, Prime is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.